Arrington on Android Fragmentation

Posted by Zealot on Oct 11, 2009

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android-open At TechCrunch today Michael Arrington, a proud Android user since splitting with Apple over their lack of support for Google Voice, had this to say about the dangers of handset developers creating divergent Android versions for each phone…

New Android devices are being announced and shipped in bunches. HTC, Samsung, Dell, Verizon, and others have phones on the way. Each has different hardware, and different software, than the others.

We’ve spoken with a number of high profile Android application developers. All of them, without exception, have told me they are extremely frustrated with Android right now. For the iPhone, they build once and maintain the code base. On Android, they built once for v.1.5, but are getting far less installs than the iPhone.

And now they’re faced with a landslide of new handsets, some running v.1.6 and some courageous souls even running android v.2.0. All those manufacturers/carriers are racing to release their phones by the 2009 holiday season, and want to ensure the hot applications will work on their phones. And here’s the problem – in almost every case, we hear, there are bugs and more serious problems with the apps.

There are whispers of backwards and forwards compatibility issues as well, making the problem even worse.

More than one developer has told us that this isn’t just a matter of debugging their existing application to ensure that it works on the various handsets. They say they’re going to have to build and maintain separate code for various Android devices. Some devices seem to have left out key libraries that are forcing significant recoding efforts, for example. With others, it’s more of a mystery.

Imagine if Windows developers had to build different versions of their applications for different PC manufacturers. Or even different versions for various models by a single manufacturer. That’s what some Android developers are saying they are facing now.

Imagine it? Not hard, sounds like much the situation Windows Mobile found itself in at times with these same vendors. What comes around, goes around.

Zealot (839 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


By day a department manager and writer for a major network device vendor...by night Zealot stalks the mean magnetic streets, striking fear into the hearts of bandwidth abusers and theme park mascots. Zealot has been involved with mobile devices for more than a decade now, starting off with dumb phones, moving to PDAs and then to smartphones, notebooks and netbooks with the odd PMP thrown in. Most of his mobile time currently is spent on a Treo Pro, Zune HD, Thinkpad T61, HP Mini 311, iPod Touch 3G, iPad 16G or a Hackintoshed Compaq Mini 704. He proudly groks the Geek community and considers himself a Neo Maxi Zune Dweebie (thanks Wil Wheaton!).

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  • http://twitter.com/mobilitysite/status/4781869066 mobilitysite

    Arrington on Android Fragmentation http://bit.ly/ZfM7X

  • http://www.svpocketpc.com Pony99CA

    I thought that article would catch your eye. :D However, he also said that the compatibility and splintering issues might be overblown and finished with:

    The real test will come in a month or so when sales of multiple devices running v.1.6 of Android ramp up. If apps are running bug-free cross-device without tons of developer frustration, Android may be looking good. But if developers are forced to create and maintain multiple versions of their apps for various devices, Android may be in trouble. The whole idea of Android is to let app developers build once and let users install on any Android device. Right now, it’s not a certainty that will happen.

    So it was more of a warning with a wait-and-see approach. However, given the open source nature of Android, the problem could definitely be worse than with Windows Mobile.

    Steve

  • http://www.svpocketpc.com Pony99CA

    I thought that article would catch your eye. :D However, he also said that the compatibility and splintering issues might be overblown and finished with:

    The real test will come in a month or so when sales of multiple devices running v.1.6 of Android ramp up. If apps are running bug-free cross-device without tons of developer frustration, Android may be looking good. But if developers are forced to create and maintain multiple versions of their apps for various devices, Android may be in trouble. The whole idea of Android is to let app developers build once and let users install on any Android device. Right now, it’s not a certainty that will happen.

    So it was more of a warning with a wait-and-see approach. However, given the open source nature of Android, the problem could definitely be worse than with Windows Mobile.

    Steve

  • Android Marvin

    Arrington on Android Fragmentation | Mobility Site http://short.to/tjyp

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