New study shows frustration amongst developers over Android fragmentation
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A Q1 2011 study conducted by Baird venture capitalist William Powers surveyed 250 active app developers on their general experiences with the Android and iOS platforms. In short, 86% of respondents found the fragmentation of Google’s Android to be anywhere between somewhat problematic and extremely problematic.
According to Powers, iOS is the preferred platform for app development due to its ease of development, recognition, unified App Store, and profitability.
The Android fragmentation means developers must take into account the myriad of Android-equipped devices in the market, and what these devices are and are not capable of. Optimizing apps for the different processors, available RAM, screen sizes, and graphics chips are all additional challenges that developers face when programming Android apps. This is in comparison to the ease of developing for the Apple iOS, where much fewer types of devices are involved.
Additionally, some Android apps just cannot run on certain devices if those models are unable to update to higher versions. Even though Android commands a large percentage of the mobile market, Over 30% of those users are still using Android 2.1 or lower as of April 1 2011, according to Android.com. To exclude over a third of the entire user base is definitely something developers would want to avoid.
Several game developers have also been concerned over Android’s inconsistency when deciding on which platforms to develop for. Infinity Blade, for example, appears on Apple’s App Store but is currently nowhere to be found on Android for a reason. “When a consumer gets the phone and they wanna play a game that uses our technology, it's got to be a consistent experience, and we can't guarantee that [on Android],” said Epic Games programmer Tim Sweeney in a Gizmodo interview.
Google has so far been attempting to reduce further Android fragmentation levels by withholding the source code for Android 3.0. While this goes against the open-source advantage the platform holds against iOS, the step may be necessary for controlling future Android devices while pleasing developers.