Back in January I proposed a hypothesis that, as a developer, we no longer consider writing for an operating system. Instead, we focus on writing for a device family. For instance, you don’t write for Android. You write for Samsung phones that use Android. I’m seeing more momentum in this direction.
The first was a story sent to me by a friend entitled “The shocking toll of hardware and software fragmentation on Android development.” In short, developer David Smith released AudioBooks, a free app, into the Android market. With 1.3 million downloads it has been run on 1,443 different Android devices. This, obviously, is insanity. There is no way to guarantee compatibility with all these devices with all the various versions of the operating system on them.
As I said in January, with Samsung owning huge market share among smartphones, does it make sense to develop for other Android smartphones? And with Amazon owning (presumably) huge market share among Android tablets, does it make sense to develop for other Android tablets?
Charlie Kindel also wrote an interesting article on Google and what he believes is its Android strategy. He believes that Google will de-emphasize the Android brand in favor of its new Play brand, including releasing its own tablets under the Play brand (emphasis his):
Google will start distancing itself from the Android brand completely. Why? Because Android has become an ill-defined mess of a brand that Google does not control. If Google wants to create a phenomenal end-to-end user experience that has a chance of competing with the iPad juggernaut in the tablet space they need to control all aspects of the experience. If they are smart (and I think they are) they will recognize that brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services.
Of course, this doesn’t help Android fragmentation at all (which Charlie addresses), but it does once again focus the mind of this developer. If I decide to write Android software then I’m going manufacturer by manufacturer, not platform by platform.