TweetDeck is one of the most popular Twitter interfaces available – a great boon for those who like to sort and regulate the ceaseless flow of information from Twitter. It has been in the midst of a high-profile app launch for Android recently, and when the beta phase drew to a close, TweetDeck released some very interesting states about the dizzying variety of Android devices and system versions there are out there.
What’s the story?
TweetDeck recorded certain information about every one of their Android beta-testers – most importantly, what kind of device they were running the app on, and what version of Android they were using. The results show a huge number of both:
Of the near 35,000 beta testers for Android, there 244 different Android devices registered. Around 50% of those were split between the top 6 devices:
1. HTC Desire (5030)
2. Droid (3425)
3. Nexus One (3050)
4. PC36100 (2497)
5. DROIDX (2096)
6. GT-I9000 (1905)
The remaining 17,500 people are split between a bewildering variety of devices. You can see the full list on the TweetDeck blog
This list is much more consolidated. There are only (!) 108 Android SDK variants recorded here, and over half of them are Android’s own 2.2. The entire top 5 is represented by three Android OSs and their updates:
1. Android 2.2 (18268)
2. Android 2.1-update1 (11768)
3. Android 1.6 (3135)
4. Android 2.2.1 (2031)
5. Android 2.1 (665)
What we think?
The question that hangs over this story is “are we looking at healthy diversity or unhealthy fragmentation here?” The upper strata of those lists are populated by top-selling devices and well supported operating systems. If you suppose that a statistical group of 35,000 people is representative of the Android market, then in order to hit at least 50% of that market a developer needs to make sure its app is compliant with the last few core releases from Android, and the top 5 or 6 selling Android devices.
To some people, 50% may seem like too low a number. And at the end of the day, that depends on the individual developers. Each has to decide how much effort they are willing to put into reaching the widest Android audience they can.
And you should also bear in mind the following, left in a comment on the TweetDeck blog by a user called Georges: “Try the same with PC under Windows (by PC makers, than by Windows versions, including SP versions, IE versions, optional updates installed or not, etc.)….. And after that dare to say it’s an issue…..”
Thanks to the ever-reliable Dr. Alex O’Connor for suggesting this story, and the core “diverse or fragmented” issue.