Android Fragmentation Abounds as Jelly Bean, KitKat Take Hold

One of the major obstacles that has plagued Android as a mobile operating system despite its continued growth is the fragmentation between the different versions of the OS. Years after it came out, Android Gingerbread still controls 21.2 percent of the market according to Google's most recent statistics, whereas the newest version of the OS only controlled 1.4 percent of Android traffic in the first week of 2014.

Android fragmentation is a major issue for developers, who are forced to develop apps that can work on operating systems that have been released over the span of one to two years. This is in stark contrast to Apple's iOS, where users will upgrade to a new version of the platform within weeks after it's released.

A Slow Progression

The best way to describe Android OS upgrade adoption is slow, as it has taken months for new versions to finally attain a small fraction of the overall market. Android 4.4 (KitKat) was released on October 31, 2013 and although it is just now rolling out to popular devices like the Galaxy Note 3, it has only been able to build a 1.4 percent market share over the past two months.

In foreign markets, the fragmentation is even more apparent to the point that some of the Android devices in China and neighboring countries look less like Android and more like third-party imitations of the OS. "Android is badly fragmented; most of what is in China has no connection to Google anymore and Amazon just . . . ran with the code," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told us. "I think this will become the biggest problem for Android users/OEMs in the coming years."

Just as it has taken a long time for new versions of the OS to make it to...

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