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18 May 12 Researchers Tackle Android Fragmentation, Find 4000 Devices

Android fragmentation is always a hot topic among the Android faithful and detractors alike. But just how many different variations of the Google-based operating system are we talking about? New research found almost 4,000 distinct Android devices in the wild.

For the past six months, OpenSignalMaps has been collecting data about Android users who have downloaded its app. Of the 681,900 devices catalogued by the firm, researchers “spotted 3,997 distinct devices,” OpenSignalMaps said this week.

“We’ve looked at model, brand, API level (i.e. the version of Android) and screen size and we’ve tried to present this in the clearest form we can,” the company said.

Not surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S II – which hit 20 million in global sales back in February – was the most-popular device, with 61,389 owners downloading OpenSignalMaps in the last six months.

Overall, OpenSignalMaps catalogued 270,144 Samsung devices.

HTC was the second most-popular brand, followed by Sony and Motorola. Overall, OpenSignalMaps picked out 599 separate brands.

“While the number of different models running Android will continue to increase we’ve seen Samsung take the lion’s share of the Android market, most of that due to the Galaxy product line,” OpenSignalMaps said. “Testing on the most popular Samsung HTC devices will get you a long way.”

The customizable nature of Android naturally helped create the almost 4,000 distinct devices, but “one complication is that custom ROMs can overwrite the variable that we use for the device model,” OpenSignalMaps said, prompting “a staggering 1,363 device models appear only once in our database.”

Still, the company did spot some little-known devices, like a 10.1-inch Hungarian tablet called the Concorde Tab, a dual-SIM Indian phone known as the Lemon P1, and a Spanish entertainment tablet, dubbed the Energy Tablet i724. There were even two Fusion Garage-based tablets.

What about Android version? Android Gingerbread is still the dominant version of the OS, with 55.4 percent, down from 65.6 percent last year.

“One year ago the top two Android versions accounted for 90 percent of devices, now it’s closer to 75 percent – a challenge for developers,” the company said.

According to recent data from Google, 64.4 percent of all Android devices are running Gingerbread. Slightly less than 5 percent are running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.

A March report from IDC and Appcelerator suggested that Android fragmentation would drive developers away from the platform and contribute to its “slow erosion.”

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt raised eyebrows when he appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and argued that Android is not fragmented but “differentiated.”

For more, see Hey, Google: Here’s What Fragmentation Means. Also check out PCMag’s full review of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the slideshow below.

For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.

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Ice Cream Sandwich Home

ICS Customization

ICS Folder

ICS Multitasking

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17 May 12 A Look at Android Fragmentation: The Good, the Bad and the Pretty Charts

There’s no doubt that there is a great deal of diversity when it comes to Android.

There are a half-dozen flavors of the operating system, with products made by dozens of manufacturers and literally thousands of individual designs. Whether this is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.

But the sheer number of different products is mind-boggling. In a report this week, OpenSignalMaps looked at data from 600,000 users who downloaded its signal-measuring software. The company found that its software has been downloaded by nearly 4,000 different devices. Some of these are actually standard devices running custom software. But even factoring those out, there are still upward of 2,000 different Android products in the wild.

Of the nearly 600 different brands, Samsung rules the roost with nearly 40 percent market share, followed by HTC, SEMC, Motorola and LG. At the bottom end of the market-share battle, the company spotted a pair of the ill-fated Fusion Garage tablets and a handful of Polaroid’s smart cameras.

For its part, OpenSignalMaps notes the downsides of so many makes and models, but says that the opportunities outweigh the challenges.

“Developers tend to bemoan Android fragmentation yet there’s much here to be celebrated,” the company said in its report. “While the number of different models running Android will continue to increase we’ve seen Samsung take the lion’s share of the Android market, most of that due to the Galaxy product line. Testing on the most popular Samsung HTC devices will get you a long way.”

Besides, Android means reaching to all corners of the globe. OpenSignalMaps says it has collected data from nearly 200 countries, with the most popular being the U.S., Brazil, China, Russia and Mexico.

“One of the joys of developing for Android is you have no idea who’ll end up using your app,” it said.

The report is chock full of interesting numbers and charts, and is well worth a read.

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