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Fragmentation on your phone matters. A lot.
Anil George
February 15, 2017

Consider this: 76% of iOS users are on iOS 10

We all know the feeling. You and a colleague carry near-similar versions of a flagship smartphone, yet your experiences vary vastly. The reason as most of us know, is the fragmentation aspect, some mobile users are running older version of an operating system, while others are running newer versions.  The net result, as some brands find out, is that user perceptions of a flagship offering vary. Widely.

Apple has an advantage in this regard as the software and hardware are produced by the same manufacturer.  The brand can push out an update to every iPhone in the world simultaneously which means any software update is controlled and targets specific hardware. Most importantly, the iOS operating system avoids most of the fragmentation issues that affect others by producing a comparatively limited number of device models and keeps the entire system under control. Normally, iOS updates are rolled out simultaneously to all of iOS devices which results in iOS users upgrading to the latest software far more regularly. An example of this is that 76% of iOS users are currently on iOS 10 just 4 months after availability.  Contrast this with the global Android version distribution as of February 2017, which cites Android Lollipop as the most widely used version of Android, running on 32.9% of all Android devices accessing Google Play, while Android Marshmallow runs on 30.7% of devices, and the latest Nougat at well under 2% in terms of adoption.

Come to apps, and smartphone fragmentation can be a problem for software developers who must create different versions of the same app in order to make sure it works correctly with different versions of a given OS.  Here again, as against the likes of Android, Windows and Tizen, iOS app developers spend less time on testing and bug fixes. While enabling the iOS platform to be the first with new apps, this also means that users get access to more frequent updates and feature improvements. 

Android phone manufacturers try to add value and differentiate their devices by adding their own custom user interfaces, but that additional layer of software on top of Android means an extra round of testing and tweaking before a new version can be released. This has led to a fairly universal perception that Android fragmentation is a barrier to a consistent user experience, a security risk, and a challenge for app developers. This contrasts with the iOS element, where there are no extra carrier or manufacturers tweaks or skins to boost your device’s speed and battery life nor apps on your device. The tight quality control that the iOS platform has on apps and the ability to push updates out to more devices, also gives it a definite edge with device security.  

by Anil George

Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2015 and 2016. Anil is also the Middle East’s first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering.  Reach him at: