Think there are a confusing number of Android devices called ‘Galaxy’? Well, that’s nothing. There are at least 11,868 different Android devices overall, according to OpenSignal’s latest report on Android Fragmentation.
OpenSignal is a mobile app available for Android and iOS that locates the best mobile network in your area. But they take advantage of all that lovely statistical data from the devices that download their app and provide an overview in the form of an annual report that highlights the significant differences in iOS and Android’s userbase.
The key differences are all obvious in terms of range of manufacturers and number of devices, but the scale of the difference is startling, and growing. Last year’s report saw 3,997 distinct Android devices surveyed compared to this year’s 11,868. That’s 7,871 new Android devices appearing on the market this year. And that’s assuming one of each model actually downloaded OpenSignal’s app and so registered on their radar, so these numbers are very much minimums. In the same period, the iOS range grew by an iPhone 5, an iPad 4 and an iPad Mini.
The sheer number of manufacturers and models wouldn’t make any real difference to designers and developers of course if only they all used the same size and resolution of screens, and kept up to date with operating system updates, but the fact that they don’t is where the real issue lies in terms of design, development and support. Apple have so far utilised two iPad sizes and two iPhone sizes, and even then the two iPad screens share the same resolution or a whole multiple of it. Android boast hundreds of screen sizes with perhaps tens of resolutions. And where Apple users seemingly upgrade their OS with extreme efficiency, Android users are spread across 8 versions of their OS. The most popular, representing 34% of users, is v2.3 Gingerbread released nearly 3 years ago, whereas 95% of Apple users have the latest iOS6 and almost all the remaining 5% have the previous iOS5.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The sheer number and range of Android devices means two things from a sales perspective – popularity and choice. The majority of manufacturers may not make much profit (and Samsung has nearly half the Android market share alone), but they’re clearly satisfying a need across all price points and device specs. And it’s Apple that are looking to emulate a tiny piece of this next month with a diversifying iPhone range, though at least the rumoured iPhone 5S and 5C will share the same screen size and operating system.
View the OpenSignal report here.