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October 19, 2010

Steve Jobs on Android's Fragmentation

Apple's CEO says that Android is fragmented and that the open vs. closed dilemma is not important as long as Apple's proprietary mobile operating system manages to provide a better user experience.

"Many Android OEMs install proprietary user-interfaces to differentiate themselves from the commodity Android experience. The user is left to figure it all out. Compare this with iPhone where ever handset works the same. (...) We think the open vs closed is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is: What's best for the customer? Fragmented vs. integrated. We think Android is very very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day."

Steve Jobs is right, the real question is: What's best for the customer? Some people like to have options. Not everyone likes iPhone's form factor, iPhone's interface and some may even want a hardware keyboard, a custom virtual keyboard or a weather widget. Android is a diverse ecosystem and there's a lot to learn until Google, hardware manufacturers and all their partners manage to come up with revolutionary phones, consistent interfaces and integrated experiences. Android is just an opportunity to innovate, it's not a complete package. Google chose a non-restrictive license for Android to encourage innovation, even if that meant less control and more fragmentation.

Mobile phones are more personal than computers and I don't think we'll live in a world where every smartphone user will choose an iPhone. There's always a trade-off and not everyone wants a perfect phone if that means they'll have to change their definition of a perfect phone.


  1. Google needs to take care of Android. What Steve Jobs is trying to explain, is absolutely true. Android 'does' provide a WORSER user experience as compared to iPhone / iPad. Agreed android is open source, but at the end, the user doesn't benefit much considering the usability factor.

  2. The google approach to Android is dangerous to customer. Steve Jobs is right to say you need to help user understand technology and user shouldn't figure it out! ... Remember when everyone was learning basic because we though that would be how we use computers and everyone would be a developer????

    What google did, with an easy approach and STANDARDIZE the web with there search engine, they need to duplicate it to Android if they want it to be near the iPhone usability. And trust me, I DO NOT WANT to see the iPhone being the only smartphone on the market as to much power means too means the customers will have to pay the price of that!

  3. +1
    Android IS fragmented - please do something with that

  4. Yep, not everyone wants an iPhone. And clearly there is a demand for various Android-based devices, whether Jobs likes it or not. Some people may become disappointed with Android and switch to WM or iOS - it's up to them.

    However, several Andoid apps stores is a crazy idea.

  5. It's clear that Android is giving Steve the headache.

  6. How does Android provide a WORSE experience to the iPhone? Android has lots more free apps, you can plug it into your PC and drag drop files in seconds without installing any proprietary software, you can change your mail, internet and music software very quickly and its just as quick and easy to use.

    In fact I'd say its quicker; you have your dashboard which is very personal and customisable giving you an overview of your emails, calendar, Twitter etc. without even opening an app - all you get on the iPhone is a list of apps.

    I think the only issue with Android as far as fragmentation is concerned is that newer versions of Android aren't compatible with older phones, and often you rely on your operator rather than your handset for updates. That's an issue but I'd suspect operators want control of it as well so Google aren't all to blame.

    There's no worry of iPhone being dominant for long - even if its the number one selling phone eventually the number 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. will all be running Android, so Android phones will have a bigger market share as people can choose from an every increasing number of handsets. If Nokia would wise up and ditch the pos that is Symbian it would end the battle today, but even without them Android will become dominant.

  7. You know, I don't care either way. I just think they should all share common communication methods and data protocols so that all these phones can communicate with each other.

  8. Here's the real comparison: Android vs. iPhone is somewhat like Windows vs. MacOS.

    Windows is not open like Android is, but it does run on tons of different configurations, and software developers must test accordingly (remember the days when we had to test in 8-bit color mode, 16-bit color mode, and full-color mode?). Many vendors, including leading ones, put lots of bloatware on top of Windows.

    And yet, the market share of Windows is, um, somewhat larger than that of MacOS; and developers that write client software normally aim for Windows first (because they know where the money is).

    iPhone was released first (even though Google bought Android about two years before the iPhone's release) so iPhone has a starter's advantage -- much like the Apple II had when the IBM PC was released. But this advantage is being wiped out by the day. It's pretty clear that Android will be the leading platform within a very short time. Since it's so open, there will be many variants of it, but that doesn't matter much; most software will run on most devices, and oddball/incompatible devices will die out in a natural selection process.

    As long as you can only buy iOS devices from one company, it does not stand a chance in competition with, basically, everybody else.

  9. There is no smoke screen... And yes there will be several App stores, but if they all come with an app or widget to that store what's the big deal; I myself will continue with the original and perhaps Appbrain if it will be intergrated with the others.

    Personally I don't want the same phone everyone else has. I mean who wants to be just a clone, I like my individuality and that one reason why I prefer Google's Android, and gets what I am a consumer.

    The IPhone is a nice phone but the Cult like admiration of it is the one thing that would sure keep me away. And I do believe the apps are OS based not necessarily model and that gap is slowly closing.

    What's best for the consumer, well having the option to choose from a choice selection of quality mobile devices running the OS of one choice.

    And that is what being OPEN is all about, that is what AnDROID is all about!

  10. Look, Steve is clearly worried about Android. As much as I respect him, he doesn't do these sort of negative campaigns usually.

    If a guys says open source is bad, he is EVIL.

  11. iPhone may be friendly for non-techies, whereas Android requires a bit more knowledge. Apple may lose it's edge as a generation grows up wired from the crib. Suspect there will end up being two types of users: people with no skills, who just want a toy that works; people with skills who want to maximize their stuff.

  12. What about iPhone fragmentation? Do all old iPhones run the latest software? I know my old touch is missing many features, but I'm not willing to replace it just to be up-to-date.

  13. Hardware OEM's only compound the problem with their uninstallable custom UI's. If there was a way for any Android phone to revert back to a (default) vanilla/stock version of Android, customers could have a more unified experience. I think it would make sense to have some type of "off-switch" for the custom UI's especially with the upcoming release of "Gingerbread".

  14. Here is an analysis of OS upgrades for Droid vs iPhone: (iPhone doesnt have a fragmentation issue because it has a policy of obsolescence)

    The "fragmentation" issue in Android is almost entirely due to its relative short lifetime: the rapid pace of hardware and software development leaves the original phones behind.

    Google wants the market to decide ... if the future has multiple UIs and app stores it will be because users see value in that.


  16. Steve Jobs is sounding more and more like Ballmer every day. Is this not the same line of crap Steve Ballmer hurled at Apple when the iPhone was released? The same near sited, alarmist rhetoric from a similarly decaying mind?

    The fact of the matter is, Google can innovate better and faster than Apple in the Mobile space, due in part to the fact that they are not bound by an arbitrary annual update cycle. As much as I have loved my iPhone for the last 3+ years (now it is my 3 year olds game toy) I like my new HTC Hero far more. And no, it is not for Flash or any of the other reason people spout. It is the little things that make it a pleasure to use. Things like the notification tray. The ability to add a button to instantly call a contact with a single tap. The ability to add calendar and task widgets to my desktop.

    The fact is that Android is just a more complete OS for people who want to tailor their mobile experience to be more efficient for them. People like me, most of my clients, friends and family.

  17. Job is clueless.

    You can have an iphone as long as you want an iphone that WE decide you should have(is what the undertone is), kind of like in the Model T, where you could have any color you wanted as long as it was BLACK.

    f'jobs he's a tool and tries to define what open means.

    and what's the use of the word worser in the comments there is no such word.

  18. I could not believe Jobs is bragging that their developers benefit from having a singular platform to test upon. That assumes / implies your developers ONLY target your "mac world". How many high quality games get ported to a Mac these days? As Android grows much larger than the iPhone market, the downside for a developer testing for different HW configurations will be overshadowed by the breadth of reach provided by those "fragmented" configurations. In the end, a developer wants to reach a lot of people.

  19. there are only TWO simple reasons why i will not buy an Android at the moment and its not fragmentation:

    1. i want my OS updates available for my device the day they are updated.

    2. the UI is ugly to me, i think Pre WebOS has much nicer UI than Android albeit the crappy hardware...i am waiting for Matias design

  20. Steve Jobs may be right; i.e., the iOS ecosystem is certainly less fragmented and more homogeneous. I have an iPod and I do appreciate it. That's right.

    But what he forgot to tell you, is the price you pay for this self-consistance: namely, the reduced possibility of choice. You have a lot of different choices for Android, from budget to high priced devices (for me, I'm quite fine with a rather inexpensive HTC WildFire).

    Conversely, not too many choices are left to you, if you want an iOS device: an iPhone, and not else.

  21. maybe i like the fact that my android user interface is not identical to all other android... I like customisation and change a background is not a lot of customisation

  22. WTF is wrong with Steve Jobs? Desperation. #1 At no point when I hear the word "open" would I think Windows. #2 Although devs have to contend with different handsets, hardware and custom roms - this provides a competitive market and most apps are free (although, devs will work for beer money and the best part, almost anyone can do it). #3 Usability factor? Can we say custom user environment created by the user? Duh!

  23. This is so funny Apple finally coming to grips with loosing...

    Jobsy by the sounds of it you might be out of a jobsy soon haha.

    Like it or not Apple will always be restrictive I mean they cant get any better just look at there ranged I-Phones i mean there hasn't been allot of advancement there the same tech re badged in an inferior casing!

    Android is here to stay and for a very long time just look at Google and what they have accomplished in the time they have, I am biased to both as I am an avid blackberry user and will never stray as it does what I need it to do very well but I have also used both Android and Apple and I have to say considering the time we have had on this volatile market Android is clearly currently wining and in the ultimate end will eventually win.

  24. The user is left to figure it out???? What does this even mean???

    If I buy an iPhone and walk out of the store and have never used an iPhone before I need to learn how to use it. So what if everyone else has the same phone, I still need to learn how to use it. If I buy an Android phone -say an Incredible- and walk out, and have never used an HTC Android before, I need to learn how to use it. NO DIFFERENCE. So what if some other Android phone looks a little different, I only need to learn ONE the one I own. Just like iPhones. Oh, and the other illogical part of this comment is that the guy I buy it from in the store can show me how to use it, just like the guy in the apple store.

    I have an incredible, I can always find an equivalent app to whatever my iPhones friends have, and mine is always cheaper or FREE. Also, I don't need to be told what kind of apps I can and can't have. I don't know about you but I like playing Final Fantasy VII for FREE on my phone-- try doing that with an iPhone. My parents have iPads so I know what the iPhone experience is like and it sucks. Even if I type in a REAL WORD IT CHANGES IT???!!! What the F is up with that.

    How are the app store experiences any different?? You open the market app, you type in the search box, you get results, you click and read about the apps, then you download the one you want. This whole fragmentation thing is a joke. I can't believe the twitter app is used as an example. Twitter is the worst thing since slavery. Why would I every limit the amount I can type. And its not hard to get around it. Just tweet back to back.

  25. Okay, lets look at the objectively: How many generations of the iPhone are there? 4! How many generations of Android are there? 2 . . . to put it simply, the combined effort of Google, Motorola, and HTC have made a statement: Android isn't going anywhere but up!

  26. Funny how Apple said that Android is fragmented and is getting more and more fragmented every day. The Diversity of Android manufacturers is one of the strong points of Android and in fact it is the other way arround... as new more powerful "small" android phones come out the 1.6, 2.1 etc. will soon be a thing of the past. and Android is moving towards a "common" OS, where as the iPhone 3gs f.ex exist in huge numbers and now with iPad and iOS5 they have been cut off from some of the "features" and apps that won't run on those "old" phones. Funny how the world changes ;-)

  27. If Google really wants to end Android Fragmentation and if the Ice Cream Sandwich works as billed on all types of Hardware (that ran some version of Android previously) or screen forms then yes I would pin my hopes on ICS update. If not from Virgin Mobile USA then from some developer provided that Google released the source code for ICS (i.e. if ICS is trully Open Source as billed by Google).

  28. Android is having open source material Squeezed by Google. Phone companies will soon be ran by google if you apple people don't buy that crap, so please buy an ipad. Steve Jobs died, God rest his soul. I believe he was extraordinary, but regulation is why we are behind in technology. Look at china, no copyright laws, awesome Technology (Very exaggerated: but true). Make your idea a real contribution, not a super-accentuated income. That is what makes a great person. Have a nice day!


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