All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

08 Jun 12 Google’s Android Faces Growing Fragmentation, Flurry Says

(Corrects year-earlier figure in final paragraph.)

Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG)’s Android software is
powering an increasingly fragmented array of mobile devices,
making it costlier for developers to craft applications that run
smoothly on every product, a report found.

Just three of the 20 most popular Android devices held a
usage market share greater than 6 percent last month, according
to research published today by Flurry, a provider of app
analytics software that tracks use of more than 100 million
devices globally. Only one phone, the Samsung Galaxy S II,
commands a double-digit market share among Android products, reported on its Tech Blog.

The vast product array may deter some developers, who often
have to customize apps to accommodate each device’s screen size
and features. As the Android marketplace becomes increasingly
fragmented, developers’ costs of building applications for that
platform are mounting, Flurry said.

Developers write 10 apps for Apple Inc. (AAPL) (AAPL)’s iOS operating
system, which powers iPhones, for every seven done for Android
Flurry found. And for each $1 earned on Apple apps, developers
reap about 24 cents on Android.

“Android delivers less gain and more pain than iOS,” said
the report, which comes before Google and Apple hold their
developer conferences this month.

Christopher Katsaros, a Google spokesman, declined to

Flurry measured market share by tracking each time users
launched an app from a unique device. The top 10 Android
products were used for 24 percent of sessions last month, down
from 47 percent a year earlier, Flurry said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Olga Kharif in Portland at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tom Giles at

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19 May 12 Android 5.0 will launch this fall with five Nexus devices: Report

When Android 5.0 “Jelly Bean” launches this fall, it will appear first on several new mobile devices sold by Google itself as part of the “Nexus” line.

That’s according to a Tuesday story in the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Google is shifting its Android strategy so that it will not only give select mobile-device makers early access to new releases, but will also sell the resulting devices unlocked directly to consumers.

As many as five manufacturers may get privileged access to new releases of the mobile operating system, in fact, with an eye toward creating a “portfolio” of Nexus lead devices including both smartphones and tablets, the WSJ reported, citing “a person familiar with the matter.”

Google aims to sell those gadgets online and contract-free directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, but retailers may be involved as well, the report suggests. U.S. Thanksgiving is reportedly the target date for the launch.

So Long, Fragmentation

While Android has clearly done enormously well, inconsistency and fragmentation are among the chief complaints about the Linux-based mobile operating system. This new strategy could ensure that more Android phones are running the latest version of the OS; it could also help other manufacturers create their own custom builds more quickly.

Such a strategy would also restore a significant degree of control back to Google, which has long been at the mercy of wireless carriers for pushing updates to consumers, as well as for decisions as to which apps can be included on the devices they carry. Verizon Wireless, for example, doesn’t allow the Google Wallet app on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus device.

In addition, the new tactic could minimize device-makers’ concerns over Google’s pending Motorola Mobility acquisition, since it won’t be just Motorola getting early access to new releases.

Not Without Risks

Bypassing wireless carriers, of course, has the potential to enrage the carriers themselves.

Then, too, there’s the proven difficulty of selling handsets online to consumers, who have indicated in the past that they prefer to be able to touch them and try them out before buying.

Still, the shift could be an exciting one, removing as it would any disadvantage Android might face in its ongoing competition with Apple, which has always been at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to controlling its ecosystem.

A more unified front could also help in Google’s ongoing legal battles over Android.

Your Move, Tizen

I spoke briefly with Google spokesman Christopher Katsaros this morning for confirmation, but he declined to comment on the story.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder what effect all this may have on the other mobile players, including most notably Linux-based (and Samsung-backed) Tizen along with Mozilla’s own Boot to Gecko. If nothing else, it seems to me it might encourage them to step up their own efforts.

It looks as though competition in the mobile market just became tighter.

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