Android: You Say Fragmentation, I Say Choice

You may have seen the above image making its rounds today, depicting the 400 devices used for Android app testing by the company Animoca. While Animoca themselves embrace the choices Android users have, opponents quickly began blurting out the “F” word again — as if it would magically make Android’s commanding market share simply disappear.

“We like fragmentation as users prefer choice. We are not big believers that one size fits all.” – Yat Siu, CEO of Animoca‚Äôs parent company Outblaze

Animoca’s testing methods are a bit overkill and they could have saved themselves a good amount of money by simply using the emulator and some beta testers, but I have to admit, having all those devices to play with sure looks like fun.

Google is certainly making strides to unify the look of Android across devices and has even set up guidelines and tutorials for developers. Google could really care less if there are a million different devices running Android, as long as users have the ability to use the same apps. This is why devices must meet Google’s compatibility requirements in order to have the Google Play Store featured on them, but other than that, manufacturers are free to do what they want.

It’s open source, a beautifully built model that’s open to customization by manufacturers, users, or carriers. Android allows you to have a plethora of choices: the choice to purchase a device running pure Vanilla Android, such as a Nexus; the choice to purchase a device with an OEM skin such as Sense or TouchWiz; the choice to purchase a device with an unlockable bootloader so that you can root and add custom ROMs; the list goes on, and on, and on. You call it “fragmentation,” I call it “choice.”

It has its advantages and its disadvantages, but in the end, it’s a choice you get to make for yourself — not a choice someone makes for you. No matter what you call it, it seems to be working, as Android continues to dominate the mobile operating system market. That’s right, Android is a mobile operating system — not a phone!

I have my own image on “fragmentation” when it comes to Android versus its competition.