Is Android Killing Indie Developers? – Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc (GOOG)

Fragmentation also includes software versions. Since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) pushes out iOS software updates quickly and seamlessly, it sees prompt uptake of the newest versions. A separate study from Chitika last week showed the most recent iOS 6.1.2, a very minor update, had reached 35% penetration in just six days. That wasn’t even a major version update; iOS 6 (released September 2012) and later is now on 84% of iDevices.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s most recent data on Android version distribution shows 2.3 Gingerbread, originally released in December 2010, is still powering 44% of Android devices. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (released November 2011) is up to 29%, and 4.1/4.2 Jelly Bean (released June 2012) is on 16.5%. Carriers and OEMs are the biggest hurdles to pushing out timely software updates.

That means that one minor iOS update (6.1.2) was able to reach higher penetration in six days than a major Android update (4.0) has been able to in 15 months.

It’s mostly Google’s fault
Flurry sees overall model fragmentation as putting the squeeze on small developers, since the incremental cost in time, energy, and money of supporting additional models simply isn’t worth it at a certain point, and the natural response is to target the fewest devices that reach the most users for the sake of efficiency. This growing importance of scale is one reason why Flurry even suggests that the app development market is “ripe for consolidation.”

The researcher’s data also shows that on average, there are over 14 times more users on iOS models than on a given model for other platforms, meaning that developers can reach far more users on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s platform for a specific model.

As the biggest contributor to device fragmentation throughout the mobile landscape, Android is making life difficult for the little guys.

The article Is Android Killing Indie Developers? originally appeared on and is written by Evan Niu, CFA.

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

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