May 17, 2012
“Fragmentation” is the word often tossed around when discussing Android, because of the vast number of devices with different screen sizes and operating system variants that are out there. But just how fragmented is the world of Android devices? The answer has been visualized thanks to OpenSignalMaps. They have created several interactive displays that show just how fragmented things are.
First, the number of devices. OpenSignalMaps claims to have seen 3,997 devices that have installed and run OpenSignalMaps (their analytics being the source for all this info), with the Galaxy S II and its variants being the most popular. In fact, Samsung models ranked up there with HTC devices as the most used among Android devices. Because custom ROMs can rename the variable that tracks the device name (android.build.MODEL), OpenSignalMaps claims that the number of devices may be even fewer, as 1363 devices only showed up once in their database, although some they tracked were legitimate devices.
599 brands were recorded, with 40% of the market using Samsung, way ahead of the competition, with HTC being second. They also show that Gingerbread is still the most popular OS, with 55.4% of devices using it compared to 8.5% using Ice Cream Sandwich. This is down from last year’s 65.4%.
Note that all this data should not necessarily be taken as a scientifically valid survey â€“ while the sample size is very large and there likely is some statistical validity to these numbers, because the source is inherently biased â€“ users who installed OpenSignalMaps, not a random sample of all Android users â€“ they may not represent the Android population at large.
While this shows how complex Android fragmentation is, OpenSignalMaps warns that it is not necessarily a thing to bemoan. For their purposes, it gives them the ability to map data about carriers in many countries on many networks. They also remind people that this is partially the triumph of Android: an operating system that is running on many, many variants of hardware, powerful enough to run on the latest and greatest hardware in the top markets, yet flexible enough to run on low-end hardware in developing markets (data was tracked from 195 countries), and it’s customizable enough to run on many different network types, so users can ultimately have a choice of what they want from their phone. Android fragmentation may be tricky for developers, but there’s a reason why it has gotten to this point.