Discussion: Android Fragmentation


May 28, 2009
Before we start, i am a massive fan of Android, have a Desire HD and have even developed a little app for the company i work for.

But one of the biggest problems with Android is the fragmentation of the OS versions. Recently, Google confirmed that the dominant Android version is 2.2, which is good as 2.2 was probably the first version when Android truly came into it's own in speed and functions. However there are still a lot of devices lagging on 2.1 or even 1.6 when they could be moved up to 2.2. This is usually due to carrier or vendor reluctance. I think this is really wrong.

When we buy a phone, we have the right to have our phone upgraded to the best it can be, not artificially held back by vendors either due to the fact that they want you to buy their latest phone that has the latest version, or because it's too much trouble adapting their custom ROM to the new version for your phone.

So what do you think is the best solution to minimise fragmentation on this OS?
I agree. I've seen the market share charts that shows a lot of users out there still on the 1.6 and other early platforms. To a degree, I think that it depends on whether or not the actual phone can handle a newer version of Android, which is why you have a lot of reluctance on the part of carriers to offer an upgrade. Am I saying that phones on 1.6 couldn't handle 2.2, no, but to cover their butts, a lot of carriers won't offer the upgrade just in case.

However, I think that a good idea to minimize fragmentation would be to have Google come out with a policy every time they release a new OS version that gives a list of phones that can run the newest OS without issue and so on with older versions. I'm not sure if this could be done though, as I'm not sure how comfortable Google would be "dictating" to carriers on how to run their businesses, at least to a degree.

It's a start though.