Beautiful charts highlight the diversity and troubles of the Android ecosystem
11,868 distinct devices. Of course, despite that Samsung is still the king of the castle and has been found to be the manufacturer behind 47.5% of all Android devices.OpenSignal has performed a survey of 682,000 devices in the Android world, and the numbers are pretty crazy. According to the data, the diversity in the Android ecosystem has exploded in the past year. When OpenSignal performed the same survey last year, using the same number of devices, it found 3,997 distinct Android devices; but, this year the data has shown
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And, you can see when you switch between last year's results and this year's that Samsung has pushed out all competition from the top spots on a per device basis. Last year, HTC had a few entries near the top of the list with its Desire, EVO, and Sensation handsets; but, this year HTC has dropped off and the only devices that come close to Samsung are Nexus devices (one of which was made by Samsung anyway.) When looking at the combined device numbers, it is even more apparent how far ahead Samsung is compared to the competition.
Lastly, the data shows the variety of screen sizes available in both Android and iOS (interactive versions of these charts are at the source). As you would expect, the screen sizes are far more varied in Android (the thicker the line, the more frequent the screen size), and there are only a few different screen sizes in the Apple world. Of course, as we've talked about before, just showing charts like this doesn't explain the difference that Android has responsive design, and so apps can automatically adapt to any screen size; whereas, iOS does not have responsive design tools, and requires developers to create assets that will fit each screen size individually.
Both approaches have their trade-offs. In the Android world, you may get apps that scale to fit a larger screen, but are still not optimized for that larger screen. And, on iOS you can have apps that are tagged as "universal", but simply run in a scaled iPhone layout on an iPad. Or, in both cases, you may simply have developers who don't bother to make tablet versions at all, and will actively remove tablet compatibility from Android apps that would otherwise scale to fit.
Google's plan was to make sure Android was on as many devices as possible, and it certainly is succeeding on that metric. The developer tools continue to mature and allow developers to make sure their apps work on as many of those devices as possible, although what features are accessible can be a sticking point because of the varying API levels on the devices. Google is continuing to try to persuade manufacturers to push updates and bring devices up to the newest version of Android, but persuasion only goes so far, and Google is not the type of company to force manufacturers to comply.
Ultimately, this makes for an ecosystem rife with choice, but one where users may have to put in a bit more work to understand the benefits and drawbacks of choosing certain devices, if that user really cares about having the newest OS version at all times. As you might expect from such a diverse ecosystem, the choice is out there, if you know what you're looking for.
title image source: Animoca