Android: A Developer Conundrum

6 05 2010

Fragmentation is a common theme in the life of the mobile developer. This was highlighted recently with the release of an updated Android chart which shows the relative number of active devices running a given version of the platform.

This data is important to developers because it indicates how fragmented the market is, and which operating systems they should ensure their applications is ultimately compatible with. With six versions and a seventh version on the way later this month, combined with the mixture of handsets that the OS is deployed upon the open source platform can present a minefield for the developer community.

A recent example that highlights this issue of fragmentation is the launch of the Twitter application for Android which devices running version 2.1 or higher. This means it will currently only run on the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One or the new HTC Incredible and is therefore accessible to less than one-third of Android customers.

As the market share of Android increases it is becoming an increasingly attractive platform to the mobile developer. According to a comScore  survey, Android’s share among US mobile subscribers increased from 2.8% to 7.1% for the past few months, which is a 154% increase. However, with the Apple platform still representing 25.1 per cent of the market according to the same report and offering a less fragmented platform to build for, is Android truly the developer centric platform it was once positioned as?

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