android_market_bagWill the introduction of new Android devices fragment the Android Market?   I suppose it’s possible, but not probable.

As companies like INQ hint at their own take on the experience and Cole Brodman acknowledges the shortcomings of the Android Market if there is fragmentation, it’s likely to be in how it appears on handsets.

So far, one the physical differences between Android handsets is screen and pixel size.  With the HTC Tattoo gearing up for release, will developers have to also worry about how their apps work on both capacitive and resistive touch screens?  What about other form factors?


The T-Mobile G1 and the Motorola Cliq  sport full QWERTY’s and we already know apps play well with track balls,  soft keyboards, and touch screens.  However, way back in 2007, Android was shown on a device that resembled a 1st generation BlackBerry Curve and other low-to-mid level phones.  Now we could be looking at fragmentation – Writing apps to take advantage of specific hardware.

Just how specific are we talking?  Will Android Market have device specific apps?  For instance, if I went into Market and look for NitroDesk could it be identified by “NitroDesk – Cliq” and/or “NitroDesk – Tattoo”.  Nah…that’s way too much confusion for the casual smart phone buyer.

So will new devices fragment Android Market?  App differentiation maybe, but fragmentation no.

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  1. It seems to me that if Android Applications start to fragment on the physical & functional differences it would be no different than what we already have regarding Symbian/Java applications. This would certainly slow down the developers and significantly reduce the number of apps on the market. I certainly hope that Android will not go that way, it's better to let the few handsets fail but keep the OS and Dev community growing instead of pushing the burden onto the Developers…… just my 2 cents …

    • droidzine, I totally agree. I certainly hope that Android will not go the fragmentation route.
      To developers, fragmentation could be detrimental (eg. just look at Unix).

  2. New phones with screen sizes smaller than 320 x 480 will definitely cause problems for developers and for the Market.

  3. I don't believe it will fragment the market at all. Both the Android SDK and the Market have the code to differentiate device features. For example, you can put in a app somewhere (i forget where exactly, i'm not an Android dev) RequiresNoTouchscreen and when you put it up on the market, only users with phones without a touchscreen will see it. Or you could put like: RequiresKeyboard and only (currently) G1 users will see it, not MyTouch or Hero users.

    So there may be fewer apps for a certain device, but it's not like there will be "Example App – Dream" "Example App – Hero" and so on.

    • Interesting. I was under the impression that Android Market showed all apps for all devices and not for specific form factors. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I'll tell you what it will do. It will certainly make things more complicated for buyers, and more repulsive for developers. Unfortunately…

    It's the price to pay for diversity. Which is why there is no way Android will ever have nearly the same amount of iPhone apps in the Apple App store…

    • TareX while I don't argue with the conclusion than iPhone will likely have more apps, I don't see this as a driving reason. Apple is already facing this problem with 3 different classes of devices now (2G/3G, 3GS, and Touch3). All of these devices have different processors and apps will have to be written specifically for one or the other.

      • The differences between the 2g and 3G are almost nonexistent. As for the differences between the the 3G and 3GS they are rather noticable because of the OpenGL ES 2.0 support. At the end of the day, we're talking about 3 devices in 3 years.

        On the other hand, Androids will be more than 10 devices a year, each with its own processor, screen resolution, and hardware options (trackball? qwerty? direction pad? All touch?…etc)

  5. Other than hardware difference, with so many manufacturers trying to diverge the UI experience, there is a risk of fragmentation on the user experience side as well. The fragmentation on user experience could be even more dangerous than the hardware difference.

  6. I've been hearing from Hero owners that my Photo Sleuth app doesn't work properly on Hero. I've been unable to determine just WHY it isn't working properly, but my current guess is there's some differences with WebKit between the two devices. Or maybe how the different WebKit versions handle JavaScript. Either way, it works on G1, but not Hero, and there's no obvious failure in the logs. Log output is identical when run on G1 and Hero.

    This sort of fragmentation is going to be a problem, and has nothing to do with screen sizes or hardware. It's purely a software problem.

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