Fred argues that while there is fragmentation in the Android ecosystem, it’s actually a good thing. In his mind, it means that new devices can fork Android and still have access to a massive base of apps.
On paper, that sounds great. But reality is much different. The problem is that all of these different devices require testing for each and every app. They all create a different Android experiences — some in subtle ways, some in big ways. Some run certain Android apps, others don’t. Some apps work fine on one device then are buggy as hell on another one. Sometimes this gets fixed, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the popularity of that device and the resources the development team has.
This is a massive problem for developers, which in turn is a problem for users. While Fred may have four of five Android devices and is arguing for more, most people will choose one. And they better choose wisely or they may be screwed when that app they love doesn’t work on their device. Maybe they cross their fingers that the developer fixes it. But maybe the OEM decides that device isn’t going to get updated to the latest version of Android. So maybe the developer can’t fix it.
Over time, I believe we’ll see a move towards a few Android devices dominating the market — things will start to look more like the iOS ecosystem which favors quality and experience over a large number of choices. I don’t see that as a bad thing, I think it’s a good thing.
The reality right now is that only Samsung is making any money manufacturing Android devices. If that doesn’t change — and the numbers show things going the wrong way — the other OEMs will start looking at other options.
The ones that do stick with Android will start making fewer devices. Less choice, but also less fragmentation. Again, that’s not a bad thing. It is what it is.