Fragmentation of Google’s Android OS continues at a pace

Fragmentation of Google’s Android OS continues at a pace

The rapid growth of Google's Android operating system, which is featured on a host of smartphones and tablets, has been measured by device proliferation, but there are some drawbacks for the operating system.

Google's open source OS and its strategy to allow various manufacturers to develop their own devices has led to a huge fragmentation of Android.

Each manufacturer and vendor has tended to take Android and run with it, developing their own software, hardware and other key elements, which has led to a plethora of devices all running slightly different versions, some of which alter when used by businesses.

The pros and cons associated with the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem has been debated fiercely in recent months as it emerged how fragmented the OS has become as more and more devices are being produced.

Just under 4,000 products are running one version or another of Android are currently available, which has contributed in a major way to the platform becoming the number one mobile OS in the world.

This is one of the major benefits to businesses as they have the option of such a wide variety of devices each offering slightly different things, which may be of particular use to one organisation of another.

Firms can choose from phones with 3D screens, projectors, CDMA, GSM, or even CDMA & GSM, which is no doubt a great benefit for companies looking to provide their employees with a device that will best suit their needs.

Research conducted into the proliferation of the Android OS found that just over 50 per cent of devices run the most recent version of Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3).

About 5.7 per cent of devices are tablets running some version of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, and 8.5 per cent are phones or tablets running the latest version of Android, version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

With further versions of Android set to be released by Google later this year and in 2013, the problem is clear. It was summed up by developer Michael DeGusta.

He said: "Ever since the iPhone turned every smartphone into a blank slate, the value of a phone is largely derived from the software it can run and how well the phone can run it.

"When you're making a two-year commitment to a device, it'd be nice to have some way to tell if the software was going to be remotely current in a year or, heck, even a month."

Samsung's smartphones and tablets currently represent 40 per cent of the Android devices on the market, followed by HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG.

The fragmentation of Android looks set to continue as Google is reportedly planning on giving Android 5.0, known as Jelly Bean, to five different mobile manufacturers, further increasing the range of devices on the market.

Despite the varied equipment ready to be introduced to the market allowing customers more choice, the process have its cons, particularly from a business point of view.

As the bring you own device (BYOD) trend continues in the UK and around the world more and more employees are using their own personal devices for work-related purposes.

While workers may all be using Android devices the simple fact is that they could all have subtle differences, with their associated screen sizes, internal hardware and custom ROMs creating various difficulties for businesses.