App development has gotten much easier over the years due in large part to the unification of development platforms. Instead of developers having to make sure their app works across hundreds of variations of devices and operating systems, all a developer has to do now is make a version compatible with the unified versions of Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Windows Mobile. 3 versions is manageable. 300 is not. Unfortunately, China’s recent foray into the smartphone world has reintroduced the issue of fragmented platforms. Europe is also looking to potentially bust Google’s Android monopoly on devices. These two issues threaten to send app development back to the dark ages.
A fragmented platform where each device operates slightly differently from one another is problematic for a number of reasons. App developers simply don’t have the time or resources necessary to insure that their apps work on each and every device. This means certain customers will either not be able to download an app or the app will be unusable on their phone. Another issue is that the disparity between devices leads to developers creating a lowest-common-denominator version of their app to give it the best chance of working on all platforms. If a customer bought a newer phone with a faster operating system then they might get stuck with an app that feels outdated since it was designed to be run on the slowest phone.
Unfortunately, this fragmentation is currently occurring in China where smartphone growth is rapidly accelerating. This trend mirrors the issue with Android’s initial release in the US when there were many different versions of the operating system with varying functionality. Developers are stuck deciding whether to develop for Apple’s iOS, which only has 28% market share in the country, or to develop for the fragmented, but far more popular Android platform. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
In a frustrating move, the European Commission is investigating Google for monopolizing the Android platform. The unification of Android has helped app developers create better products and has been better for consumers who don’t want to do a bunch of research to learn whether or not an app will work with their device. If Google is found to have a monopoly then Android could be set back by several years.
Let’s hope that China unifies its Android platform and that the European Commission ends its investigation. Otherwise it will be a difficult time for app developers.
Read the full article here: Don’t Reverse Mobile-Platform Improvements That Benefit App Developers And Consumers