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Fragmentation?


imageWhen I read about the device fragmentation on Android, I mentally agree with the author. When I see theses that the device fragmentation prevents from the software development, I raise eyebrows perplexedly, but when somebody tries to prove me that the fragmentation of Android is the main problem of this platform and the main disadvantage for developers of mobile software, frankly, I start laughing. I am sorry, but this is a pure marketing nonsense or complete misunderstanding of the situation.

Let us imagine that you are a furniture manufacturer. You are working in the market of furniture products; you competing with other producers and dividing the entire market in some parts. As an entrepreneur your job to cut as much as possible the radial angle on a pie chart with the title “Furniture market share”. The pixels of this diagram are the people who buy the furniture. These are different people and they buy different furniture: starting from the unstained wooden beds from IKEA and ending with sofas that are upholstered in leather of young crocodiles from Caroline Islands that each costs as your apartment.

Each of these price segments has its own competition. You can make the cheap furniture and sell them in the cheap stores, and you do not even know that somewhere is Caroline Islands, and at that you will never intersect with the manufacturers of luxury furniture, which also will not know about your existence. It is perfectly normal. Nobody calls it fragmentation. This has different name "segmentation". Market segmentation divides the market into different sectors that are separated from each other, which sector is a part of one type of product, but they depend on the different sources of supply and demand.

What do we have in a present market of mobile software?

There is Apple Company, which makes high-quality smart phones that always are fantastic at the time of their release. This is an elite and very large segment, but it is not the case, this is changing now and it will continue to change over the time.

There is an Android. This is not the product itself, but a platform for creating products. What smart phones do we have on Android? There also are the powerful top devices and the leaders that are a dream of every geek who buys everything that brings him closer to the ideals of cyberpunk future. They (the top devices) compete with the iPhone and have approximately a similar configuration. Unfortunately, some are not leaders that use Android from the very beginning. Namely, this fact bothers people for whom the word "fragmentation" is a terrible disadvantage, since the start of the modern smart phone race. My friends, the market fragmentation of devices is a plus!

What do these strange people call the fragmentation? Reply: availability of various devices that operate on the same system, but they have different parameters, such as resolution, screen density, capacity and number of cores, availability of hardware features and the version of the system. The existence of dozens of similar combinations stresses some developers. That is how Android and iPhone comparison looks like for them, if we talk only about the screen resolution:

image

This is incorrect

All the above mentioned parameters place the device in a smart phone market sector and position it on a scale of "mega leader vs. budget phone ". If we draw an analogy between our example of furniture, we can say with confidence that these sectors just do not cross each other in the case with the smart phones, because the users buy only the leaders devices, and there are people who buy the low cost smart phones for the reason that devices have the low price, therefore unlikely they even would have bought a smart phone at all, if a market will not have the budget phones.

Furthermore, the freedom of choice let the different manufacturers to produce their own different solutions, thus it has been increasing the total number of devices and the total number of users on the market.

This is a pie chart below:

image

IPhone pie chart turns into a packman - there are not any various configurations, which provide a low degree of fragmentation.

Hence it appears the thesis # 1: the presence of different configuration options let to make different and the low cost devices, as well it expands the market rather than divides it. Therefore, more options make more people to buy the smart phones.

Let us imagine a perfect representation of the fragmentation in the world, where there is not any separation into the different configuration of devices in the Android camp, and all Androids represent the competitors to iPhone that are in the top price segment. Then, we would have a different line of HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S with a similar base configuration. Also, we would have the complete absence of fragmentation and fewer sectors in the chart, on the other hand there will not be the low cost devices and sliders, therefore, the absolute number of users and devices would be smaller in the market.

Next, if you are uncomfortable to have several subdirectories in the directory / res /, you can remove any fragmentation. The Android Market has filtering mechanisms in the device features that are designed specifically for those lazy people.

The thesis # 2: If you do not want to deal with the fragmentation, then you do not deal with it. If you do not want to make an interface for ldpi, then you do not make it. If you do not want to deal with navigation without a touch screen, then you do not deal with it. Generally, you can use an application solely for one device without fragmentation!

Also, there is the technical fragmentation that happens when some system of devices gets out of date and it does not get updated and so on. Google handles that situation well, because it makes all manufacturers to release a mandatory system update within 18 months since the release of the device. Technical fragmentation is minimized in this case.

The final thesis # 3: Apple decided for you and got rid of the fragmentation, it just does not make that class of devices, which makes the most insignificant part of the chart and a few people need it. Android gives you an opportunity to make that decision yourself selecting the level of fragmentation. If iPhones would have the fragmentation that utilizes the current unused budget segments of market, would the developer profit be greater or fewer? Of course, it would be greater.

Thus, when they will tell you the next time how difficult to live in a fragmented Android world, you advise them to go back to this chart and to review the information.
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xially 29 october 2011, 12:20
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