Consumers play favorites with their smartphone brands, and it's no wonder that developers do too, particularly when they're trying to create mobile apps for platforms such as Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.
A recent survey from Evans Data polled more than 400 developers on the issue of Android fragmentation and examined preferences on the "ideal device" for testing their applications. There was a clear winner: Samsung with nearly 50 percent of respondents. The next most popular choice was device maker HTC with nearly 30 percent. The rest of the Android device makers, including Sony, Motorola and LG, trailed at 10 percent or less each.
The Evans Data Mobile Development Survey suggested that the numbers are an illustration of the challenges facing mobile app developers that see significant market opportunities among the widespread Android user base.
Samsung was the clear winner, preferred by half of Android developers.
"Android development at the OS level has forked, as seen in the highly visible Amazon Kindle Fire derivative of Android," the report said. "Developers must test their applications to work on numerous implementations of Android that vary by manufacturer, or even within a single manufacturer's collection of offerings. Android fragmentation is a reality that developers will have to face if they decide to work on Android."
Some vendors are trying to tackle fragmentation head-on and assist developers. Amazon, for example, recently introduced Device Targeting, which consolidates all download metrics, reviews and pageviews into a single app and allows developers to tailor APKs to whichever smartphones or tablets they choose. Some argue that Google's own Nexus will give customers more direct access to the latest software updates. The problems associated with fragmentation affect not only small developers but some very high-profile organizations. The BBC, for instance, recently blamed problems with Android nuances for delaying versions of its recent iPlayer Radio app.
A recent report from Google, meanwhile, indicated that while a quarter of devices are now using Ice Cream Sandwich, 56 percent are still using Gingerbread, an Android version that came out more than two years ago. These include some of LG's Optimus devices, even though other models are based on the most recent release. This contributes to developer preferences of ideal device makers, the Evans Data report said.
Because it is an open source platform, OEMs and handset manufacturers are free to create their own implementations of Android on their devices, Evans Data said. However based on the statistics, that freedom of choice may come at the cost of developer loyalty.
- read the full Evans Data study
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