Diversity vs Fragmentation: OSM graphs show the many faces of our favorite green robot

by: Mike AndriciMay 17, 2012
1 35 1

android fragmented

Before we get into dissecting a recent report from the Open Signal Maps database, here is what you need to know about the originators of this report: the Open Signal Maps database is an open (duh!) project that has assumed the task of creating coverage maps of 2G, 3G and 4G coverage, as well as Wi-Fi access points throughout the world. For now, such maps are only available only for the US, UK, Italy, Germany and Spain, but OSM is hard at work to extend its reach.

Downloaded and installed on almost 700,000 Android devices during the last six months, the OSB Android app sends signal information back to the database from the devices it is installed on. In return, users get coverage maps of signal strength, also available on their website. Oh, and don’t worry, the collected data is completely stripped down of any personal information.

Now that you know how OSm collects data, it’s time for the main course: some juicy stats about the diversity of the 700,000 Android devices that the Open Signal Database Android app has been downloaded on.

The OSM app has been downloaded on almost 4000 different Android devices, although that number is slightly bloated, due to the numerous custom ROMs that, once installed on an Android device, overwrite the model variable that the app collects.

The most popular device is by far the Samsung Galaxy S2, accounting for more than 60,000 of the 700,000 downloads. Numerous devices have been spotted only once in the database. These one hitters include the Indian Lemon P1, the Hungarian Concorde Tab, and the Spanish Energy Tablet i724. Here’s a graphical representation.

model diversity

At a manufacturer level, Samsung is the clear winner, with 40% of the Android device market share, as reported by OSM.

brand diversity

On to the side of Android diversity that anti-Android fanboys (uhm… Apple fanboys) point at when criticizing Google’s OS: Android version (or API level) fragmentation. Notice how Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich still accounts for only a small chunk of the Android version pie, although the newest version of the OS has been released for almost six months now.

This is the reason why developing apps for Android is slightly more complicated than developing apps for the iPhone: given that multiple versions of the OS share the market, developers have to create apps that work well with each of these versions. Hopefully, Google has acknowledged that this is, by far, its biggest problem, and Android fragmentation will be a smaller hassle for app developers in the future.

api diversity

There are few more stats on the OSM website, make sure you head on there for more juicy information. But before you do, drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know what your views on the Android diversity are: blessing or curse?

  • AppleFUD

    This all goes to show that Google is accomplish exactly what they set out to do with Android — provide and open OS that OEMs can utilize to bring devices to market quickly.

    For the end user the upgrade issue may be addressed a little with the new Nexus rumors however, the ROM community could go a long way to help the issue — instead of trying to support a myriad of devices if they announced before sales of a device which ones they were going to support long term and kept it to a few stellar devices. As it stands now, it takes a long time to get a fully functional, bug free ROM out — ICS for the Kindle Fire, HP TouchPad. . . anyone?

    Developers however have to wrestle with this issue until Google gets some basic standards in place similar to what MS did with Windows & x86.