Android fragmentation challenges enterprises, app developers and manufacturers

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The fragmentation of the Android ecosystem not only challenges enterprises confronting BYOD and app developers creating apps that work across all Android devices, but also handset manufacturers trying to retain customers.

According to a study by OpenSignal, there were 11,868 distinct Android devices as of July 2013, compared with 3,997 distinct devices in 2012. There were eight versions of the Android operating system in use as of July 2013.

This diversity poses a challenge to manufacturers trying to install brand loyalty. A recent Kantar Worldpanel survey found that only 41 percent of mobile users said they remain loyal to a specific manufacturer when they change device, compared with 68 percent who said they stay loyal to their existing operating system.

Given the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem among numerous manufacturers, these stats pose a "particular challenge" for Android makers to get customers to stay with their brand rather than switching to another device.

Among Android manufacturers, Samsung has been doing the best job of convincing customers to stick with them. HTC, Sony and LG have not done as well in this area and are now investing heavily in getting consumers to connect with their brand, notes Kantar.

By contrast, Apple is the sole manufacturer of its devices and the sole source of its iOS operating system. "If consumers want to jump ship to Android or Windows they must re-buy apps, copy across previous content and learn a new OS. These barriers, combined with a compelling product, mean few Apple users are ready to leave the brand," Kantar explains.

Kantar recommends that Android handset manufacturers consider the ongoing user experience over the long term, not just in the early stages of ownership. In addition, manufacturers should try to make emotional connections with customers, Kantar advises.

For more:
- see Kantar Worldpanel release
- check out the OpenSignal study

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