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Study suggests iOS fragmentation worse than Android


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#1 Subject Delta

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 13:27

It’s that time of month again: Android’s platform distribution numbers are up for the period ending September 1, and things are looking pretty good. Android 2.1 is up to nearly 41.7% of the market, and 2.2 checks in at 28.7% – between the two, 70% of Android phones are running 2.1 or better.

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Android 1.5 and 1.6 still measure at a combined 29.5% of all devices. Obviously, any number above 0 isn’t good, but as long as the rate is dropping, we’ll take it.

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In early August, we found some data from Chitika which suggested that fragmentation is worse in iOS than Android. Given the continued consolidation of the Android, it’s not surprising to see that iOS fragmentation is still substantially worse than that of Android.

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Interesting stuff indeed, although the mandatory disclaimer: the Chitika data is a sample, whereas the Android data is from the population.

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#2 thealexweb

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 13:39

Look at all those people waiting on 4.0.1, most of them waiting for a jailbreak no doubt :)

#3 vetgiga

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 13:45

Article is a bit silly as point releases from Android are different from point releases on iOS. The sub-point releases like 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 should be categorized together as they're bug fix releases that have no bearing on the minimum requirements for apps in the App Store. Hell, all 4.0.1 did was adjust the signal bars.

iOS 3.2 is also an iPad limited release. Something more accurate would be:

3.x.x: 31.82%
3.2 (iPad only): 12.72%
4.x.x: 34.05%
other: 21.42%

#4 OP Subject Delta

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 13:57

I believe this study may have been done before iOS 4.1 was released

And @ Giga even with those figures re-adjusted it still doesn't paint iOS in a light any more favourable than that of Android, so in reality the old iPhone fan argument of "Android is far too fragmented" no longer applies.

#5 MrA

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:00

I think complaining about Android "fragmentation" is a bit stupid. Since when was having multiple OS versions considered fragmentation, especially when newer OSs are backwards compatible. Is Google supposed to stop improving Android? "Hey look, we just shipped Froyo, lets take a year off and let manufacturers update their handsets and let the competition surpass us."

#6 vetgiga

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:06

Something's not right. From the original source (in July 2010): http://chitika.com/r...iphone-traffic/

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#7 MS Pandya

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:06

I believe this study may have been done before iOS 4.1 was released

And @ Giga even with those figures re-adjusted it still doesn't paint iOS in a light any more favourable than that of Android, so in reality the old iPhone fan argument of "Android is far too fragmented" no longer applies.


It applies. Just because iOS has demonstrated fragmentation (there is still an issue with the sample, but assume it's fair) doesn't instantly mean that Android isn't fragemented either. It means they're both fragemented, and furthermore, what fragementation means is also specific to each platform. There's not as wide a variety of hardware on iOS devices for example.

#8 iKenndac

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:07

From a developer's perspective, the actual OS version isn't where fragmentation is a problem. As a developer, you choose the oldest OS version you want to support and make sure your app works on that, optionally adding stuff that's only available in newer releases.

The fragmentation that's difficult is the amount of different devices are there, with different amounts of memory, CPU, display resolution, etc. That is a pain in the ass, because you have to account for everything in development and testing.

At least with the iPhone/iPod touch, the hardware is updated once a year, and in a way that at least helps developers a little bit. Yes, it's still a pain in the ass, but nowhere near as bad as it is with the Android market. The retina display on iPhone 4 and the new iPod touch is exactly twice the resolution of the older devices, meaning artwork can be pixel doubled and look respectable.

tl;dr: OS version fragmentation is a lot less important than hardware fragmentation on mobile OSes.

#9 OP Subject Delta

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:08

I think complaining about Android "fragmentation" is a bit stupid. Since when was having multiple OS versions considered fragmentation, especially when newer OSs are backwards compatible. Is Google supposed to stop improving Android? "Hey look, we just shipped Froyo, lets take a year off and let manufacturers update their handsets and let the competition surpass us."


Agreed, it is the manufacturer's faults. The simple economics of wanting to sell new handsets takes over. Besides, I have never actually ran into an application designed for older versions of Android that didn't work on newer versions, it is mainly a developer's issue and they seem to be coping with it well.


It applies. Just because iOS has demonstrated fragmentation (there is still an issue with the sample, but assume it's fair) doesn't instantly mean that Android isn't fragemented either. It means they're both fragemented, and furthermore, what fragementation means is also specific to each platform. There's not as wide a variety of hardware on iOS devices for example.


Not in the sense I was referring to. Because most iPhone fans try and use it as an argument to infer why the iPhone has superiority over Android, and this makes it obvious that does not apply

#10 MrA

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 14:14

From a developer's perspective, the actual OS version isn't where fragmentation is a problem. As a developer, you choose the oldest OS version you want to support and make sure your app works on that, optionally adding stuff that's only available in newer releases.

The fragmentation that's difficult is the amount of different devices are there, with different amounts of memory, CPU, display resolution, etc. That is a pain in the ass, because you have to account for everything in development and testing.

At least with the iPhone/iPod touch, the hardware is updated once a year, and in a way that at least helps developers a little bit. Yes, it's still a pain in the ass, but nowhere near as bad as it is with the Android market. The retina display on iPhone 4 and the new iPod touch is exactly twice the resolution of the older devices, meaning artwork can be pixel doubled and look respectable.

tl;dr: OS version fragmentation is a lot less important than hardware fragmentation on mobile OSes.

Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

#11 OP Subject Delta

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 15:35

Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.


If Google where also more aggressive about licensing their apps like Youtube, the Market ETC to handsets that didn't meet the requirements that would also reduce their appeal to the point that manufacturers would stop producing them. However, the pitfall of completely cutting out the budget sector of the market is that it would actually hit manufacturers hard, as they actually make more money from the budget segment than the premium segment due to the larger volume of purchases.

Besides, with a few modifications (like the removal of the 3D launcher with the older version) newer versions of Android can still be made to run on old devices like the G1 and Magic, most of the problems are caused by manufacturer apathy.

#12 y_notm

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 22:36

Article is a bit silly as point releases from Android are different from point releases on iOS. The sub-point releases like 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 should be categorized together as they're bug fix releases that have no bearing on the minimum requirements for apps in the App Store. Hell, all 4.0.1 did was adjust the signal bars.

iOS 3.2 is also an iPad limited release. Something more accurate would be:

3.x.x: 31.82%
3.2 (iPad only): 12.72%
4.x.x: 34.05%
other: 21.42%

Apps definitely look for specific versions. Pretty sure netflix only runs on 3.1.3 or higher, for example.

#13 kaffra

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 23:32

Apps definitely look for specific versions. Pretty sure netflix only runs on 3.1.3 or higher, for example.

there is no restrictions for the older ipod touch/iphones to update to 3.1.3.

#14 wellofsouls

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:04

Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

well, it's not about blame throwing, it's a fact that the Android platform is far more fragmented than the iOS platform, due to the differences in the hardware platform, not OS versions, since all the OS versions are mostly backwards compatible anyway.

It means when you look at an Android app, a lot of the times you won't be sure if it will run, or run well at acceptable speed, on your particular $300 Android device. But when you look at an iOS app, most of the times you'll clearly know whether it will work well or not on your old iPhone original.

That's not Google's fault, sure, but that's still a fact, and a fact that can have impact on both developers and customers alike. So I guess the "Android platform is too fragmented" argument is still valid.

#15 DrCheese

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:11

The differences between 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 on OS are hilariously small, I think it was one minor bug fix. The same with 4.0 and 4.0.1 which was just the signal bar change. The core feature set and APIs are EXACTLY the same.
To compare it to Android fragmentation you'd need to compare 3.0 and 3.1 versions/4.0 and 4.1, when actual features were added.

Comparing minor version fragmentation to major version fragmentation is retarded :p