Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fragmentation Still An Issue: You Betcha and It's the Developers' Fault

Fragmentation is a huge problem for Android and a major headache for Google.  But I have a different take on this than those who defend it and those who use the issue as an inherent Android weakness.

While I lament about the battery life on Android devices, fragmentation isn't a major issue for me because I don't install apps like crazy like I do on the iPhone.  It was only when I tried to get Netflix working on my Triumph that I ran into the fragmentation issue.

And it's all the developers' fault.  Not the users, not the device makers, and certainly not Google's fault.  

In order for me to get Netflix to install and working properly, I have to go through a shadowy back alley. Why would that be necessary at all?

I looked for the Netflix app in the Marketplace on Triumph.  Not there.  I found it through the Android marketplace on the Web but it won't let me install?  Why the frak not?!

In fact, some apps (I don't know what the percentage is), are very selective about who can buy and use them.  I know it has to do with the hardware requirement.  And for Android, there are dozens of variety's to consider.  So, instead of creating an artificial restriction, let the user choose.  

And after all, the Netflix apps, along with most in the Marketplace, are free.  If it doesn't work, the user can simply delete them and life goes up or they'll go out and upgrade their devices.  

Once a user knows that their device is subpar or old, they can make the choice of what to do.  But without even knowing if an app works or not, the user can only guess what the reasons may be?  Could it be the hardware or just that the developer is slow in figuring out if the device can run the app adequately or not.  

And the user will end up hold onto his device longer, making fragmentation worse.

In the early 80s just as the PC market was about to explode, I remember seeing ads that sell PC that are "IBM-compatible".  And furthermore, some even give the percentage of compatibility.  60%, 70%, 85%, etc.  The users pick and choose.  And gamble on the hope that the application they needed to use would work on the PC.

Maybe the developers for the Android ecosystem should adopt the same policy.

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