If we were to ever quantify blessings then Google’s mobile operating system would take home the award for most fragmented mobile platform because unlike what you’d think at first, fragmentation, at least for Android, is a good thing. According to OpenSignal who monitor different Android devices over time, out of a total of 682,000 polled devices, slightly over 24,000 of them were distinct devices a steady increase over the close to 19,000 distinct devices unearthed last year.
Android’s fragmentation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, like insinuated earlier, it means that the platform is able to accommodate just about any device. Any form factor. Any size. Any price. This has in turn made the platform the most popular in the world as it seems to cater for everyone. On the other hand, this has also led to several complications. Device manufacturers are releasing far too many devices than they can support (update-wise) and that has led to the ever-present disparity every time Google updates us on the uptake of the various flavours of Android. For instance the latest figures show that only a paltry 18% of all devices running the operating system are powered by the latest version, Lollipop. Compare that to Apple that boasts of an adoption rate of 85% on its latest iOS 8.
Fragmentation is not only a nightmare to device makers, it also presents numerous challenges to developers who most of the time have to factor in the multiple screen-sizes when designing and developing applications. What may work smoothly on one device may not necessarily work well on another thanks to not being optimized for the viewing experience on a bigger screen (for example tablet users who may have to put up with blown up versions of applications) or a certain processor (an app may not work well on a Huawei device thanks to poor optimization with the Chinese device maker’s own Kirin processors).
Since it is the leading Android device maker, Samsung leads the fragmentation pack as it accounts for 37.8% of the devices polled by OpenSignal.
Interesting to note is that Xiaomi’s rise can no longer be taken for granted as the Chinese company simply owns its home market. Samsung is unchallenged in its world beater status as usage of its various devices cuts across all continents.