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How to Cope with Mobile Platform Fragmentation

How to Cope with Mobile Platform Fragmentation

Last week, new data from Android Developers revealed that the Android platform remains a disparate, fragmented one. In fact, the older Android version 2.3/Gingerbread is still present on 47.6% of Android-powered devices downloading apps via Google Play. Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich has a 29.1% share, while a relatively small percentage of devices--10.2%--are running the most recent Android iteration 4.1/4.2 (or Jelly Bean). First things first--is anybody else getting hungry?

Besides causing me to reach for a snack, this information made me curious about the platform and version usage data we're seeing from Brightcove customers. Luckily, Phil Costa, director of product management for our App Cloud platform, has been tracking the video loads that we see from Brightcove Video Cloud users. This is a measure of the platforms users are relying upon to access video via the mobile web--in contrast to Android Developers' data which centers on app usage. The data Phil has compiled is very insightful, however, as it helps us to understand what Android (or iOS) versions devices are running on in our own customer ecosystem. Here are some interesting statistics and feedback:

  • At the end of December 2012, 74.3% of Android player loads to Video Cloud came from devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or later--this represents a rapid uptick since July 2012, when only 26.8% of player loads were affiliated with the latest Android versions.
  • Not surprisingly given that the tablets it was designed for weren't widely popular, Android Honeycomb accounts for only 0.5% of player loads. The Android Gingerbread and Froyo family represents a 23.6% share--usage data that meshes with the findings from Android Developers.
  • We've seen quick iOS upgrades, with 79.6% of iPhones and 70.6% of iPads running iOS 6--a significant adoption rate given that iOS 6 was only released in September 2012.

So what does our data represent in the context of Android Developers’ findings? We’re witnessing significant web usage from the newer tablets that are built on Ice Cream Sandwich--even if there are still countless older devices downloading apps from Play. This is further indication of mobile platform divergence, creating challenges for developers as they seek to develop apps for a variety of platforms and platform versions and for brands and media companies working to deliver video content to an extensive set of device users.

Hybrid app development tools--such as Brightcove App Cloud--help to insulate developers from the intricacies of fragmentation. App Cloud, for instance, can shield developers from the many API differences that exist between various Android and iOS versions. Additionally, Brightcove Video Cloud can ensure that individuals have the same end-viewing experience, regardless of device or platform. As brands and app developers think about how to reach the broadest swath of users via mobile apps and the mobile web, technology exists that offers practical solutions to platform concerns.