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Android Fragmentation Isn't Hurting Its Adoption

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the but-but-what-about-the-narrative dept.

Android 419

Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's developer Website offers a new, handy graph of iOS fragmentation — which, of course, highlights that the mobile operating system isn't fragmented much at all. A full 93 percent of iOS users are on iOS 6, the latest version; another 6 percent rely on iOS 5; and a mere 1 percent use an earlier iOS. Compare that to Google Android, which really is fragmented: some 33 percent of Android devices run some variant (either 4.1.x or 4.2.x) of the 'Jelly Bean' build, while 36.5 percent run a version of 'Gingerbread,' which was first released in December 2010 — ancient history, in mobile-software terms. (Other versions take up varying slices of the Android pie.) For years, Google's rivals have used the 'Android is fragmented' argument to hype their own platforms. But is Android's fragmentation really hurting the platform? Not as far as global shipments are concerned. According to recent data from research firm IDC, Android's market-share stood at 75 percent in the first quarter of 2013 — up from 59.1 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS owned 17.3 percent of the market — compared to 23.1 percent in the year-ago quarter. Whatever the drawbacks of fragmentation (and people can name quite a few), it's clear that it's not really hurting Android device shipments or adoption."

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Misses the point (5, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | about a year ago | (#44073931)

The argument presented doesn't seem to actually grasp the point of the comparisons. On one hand you may be interested in market share. But when Apple presents the issue at WWDC they're not talking about market share. They are talking about what the actual platforms in use are and which ones are going to present the best area for developers to target. Three different versions of android are going to present three different APIs that app developers are going to have to deal with. On the iOS side you can target iOS 6 and know that you're be hitting almost the entire market segment.

Re:Misses the point (2)

aergern (127031) | about a year ago | (#44073971)

It's the same with targeting Android 4.0.x as the baseline. You will hit 75% of the Android market. There are some folks who just use their phone to talk and text ... Android 2.2.x will do that until their phones break so they will not upgrade until they have to. Folks need to stop whining about fragmentation and target the majority because most of those "good enough" phones with 2.2.x on them will just be around ... it's not like they can be revoked or have a newer version that's crippled. It is what it is.

Re:Misses the point (2, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year ago | (#44073987)

It's the same with targeting Android 4.0.x as the baseline. You will hit 75% of the Android market. There are some folks who just use their phone to talk and text ... Android 2.2.x will do that until their phones break so they will not upgrade until they have to. Folks need to stop whining about fragmentation and target the majority because most of those "good enough" phones with 2.2.x on them will just be around ... it's not like they can be revoked or have a newer version that's crippled. It is what it is.

So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before I could exclusively target that version? Talking about 4.0 is good and all, but 4.0 is two years old. 2.3 is three years old. It's not exactly a huge achievement that you can target 4.0, especially if that means if Google released a major update tomorrow it would take two years to be able to realistically target that version.

That's Apple's point. They're saying on iOS you can make that transition in three months, not two years.

Re:Misses the point (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44074033)

They're saying on iOS you have to make that transition in three months, not two years.

FTFY.

To look at it another way, if you don't transition when Apple does, you're hosed.

Re:Misses the point (1, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#44074575)

They're saying on iOS you have to make that transition in three months, not two years.

FTFY.

To look at it another way, if you don't transition when Apple does, you're hosed.

Untrue. Most Apps built for iOS5 are often a few recompiles away from running on iOS6. Of course, you'll need to do a bit of coding to get your App to use new libraries.

Re:Misses the point (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about a year ago | (#44074731)

Ascendent compatibility. Ever heard of it?

Re:Misses the point (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074055)

Why does it matter, as an app developer? If your program runs without a force close and doesn't use any specific features to an Android version, your app shouldn't care if it is running on the latest code.

Same with iOS. There are a lot of things where I can release an app and it shouldn't care if it runs on iOS 4, 4.1, 4.2, 5, 6, or 6.1.

Why as an app developer would you exclusively target a version and lock everything else out, unless one is in the "latest and greatest" mentality, which is easy to get into, but is really a poor mindset to be in.

Re:Misses the point (2, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#44074267)

For example: hey changed the way their Facebook and other social networking logins work so that it's a lot easer to integrate into an iOS 6 app than it was before. That means if you're developing a social networking app for iOS, you're going to have a much easier time if you make it for version 6 rather than version 5. With iOS, you can take advantage of new features right away. When Google makes things better for the android developers, they have to wait 2 years or so before they can implement them if they want their app to be accessible to most users.

When Apple releases a new version, like 7, they release a developer preview. If I started an app for iOS 7 today, and planned to release it when apple releases iOS 7, I could expect that most iOS users would be able to use the app within a month of it's release. That's impossible with android.

Re:Misses the point (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year ago | (#44074081)

"So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before I could exclusively target that version?"

The day they release the SDK.

Re:Misses the point (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44074125)

"So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before it would be worth my valuable and scarce time to target that version?"

Re:Misses the point (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year ago | (#44074307)

The day you have a phone that runs the latest version.

Re: Misses the point (2)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year ago | (#44074371)

Anyone who posts on slashdot has plenty of time. Porting an app accross android versions is also trivial.

Re:Misses the point (4, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year ago | (#44074173)

In other words, as the user of an iOS device that is no longer supported, you can expect the market to leave you behind in a few months, rather than a few years.

--Jeremy

Re:Misses the point (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#44074517)

> So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before I
> could exclusively target that version?

Depends upon whether your new app needs immediate sales, and whether you're talking about an expensive app that needs best-of-breed hardware to run acceptably well, anyway. If your app will suck on anything less than a GNex/S3/Note2/Nexus4/OneX, you won't lose many real sales by requiring 4.1, and probably won't lose many more by aiming for 4.2.

Just don't make the mistake of setting the hardware/version bar high, then releasing an app that sucks. Aim high, knock everybody's socks off, and you'll do OK. Aim low & avoid sucking, and you'll probably make some cash anyway. Aim high & suck, and you'll get buried under bad reviews & refunds.

Re:Misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074571)

So they screw their users to help the developers? You know the people who don't upgrade, there are a lot of iPhone 3's out there still that won't run the latest OS. Not everyone feels the need to have the latest shiny.

Re:Misses the point (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074045)

I have a 2.x phone. I am considering upgrading. But really the apps I have work fine on it (oh I had other ideas when I first bought it). The screen is decent and the battery life is not in the toilet the voice quality is iffy (but many are). I have all of my 'must have apps' for the thing already.

Do I want a new shiny phone? Oh hell yes.
Do I really need one? Not particularly.

Re:Misses the point (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44074095)

You wouldn't target 4.0.x, unless of course there's a feature that isn't in previous versions that you need. For the most part, the 2.x versions have most of the stuff people need, targeting a newer version should really only be done when you need to. There's no point in throwing out users if you don't have to.

The bigger issue with the older phones is the storage size and the amount of RAM available.

Mathematical! (5, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about a year ago | (#44074475)

Let's see. With Apple, you can target 100% of 17% = 17% of phone buyers, whereas with Android you can target 75% of 75% = 56% of phone buyers.

Re:Misses the point (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#44073983)

Also, how much of the sales of Android are BECAUSE of the fragmentation? Or in other words, is Android successful BECAUSE of fragmentation? If I had a device that continued to be upgraded from 3.x to 4.x and beyond, would I be so anxious to jump to the new versions (sort of like how the 4s wasn't a big enough reason to jump from the 4)?

Re:Misses the point (0, Flamebait)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year ago | (#44074041)

A naive observer might conclude that blanketing the entire market like falling snow would be an effective way to get complete coverage.

BTW, you Apple astrofurfers are special little snowflakes, yes you are. Just please don't melt all in one place when melting time comes. (Pre-emptive commentary to the usual horde of astroturd Apple cultmods.)

Re:Misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074305)

BTW, you Apple astrofurfers are special little snowflakes, yes you are.

Oh, you fandroids are so clever. I'd rather use a device that isn't part of the Google/NSA data-gathering initiative please.

But you see... I don't don't condemn people for choosing one brand over the other... You fandroids just want to talk shit to make up for your lack of self-respect.

Re:Misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074659)

"But you see... I don't don't condemn people for choosing one brand over the other"

So you do condemn people... Please don't don't don't use double negatives to bring across your point.

Re:Misses the point (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44074127)

I'm still using a Nexus One, and the only reason that I'm going to be upgrading in the near future, is storage capacity. Having a larger screen would be nice, but the internal storage capacity is insufficient for running more than a few apps at any given time. And I often have to uninstall something in order to upgrade it due to space limitations.

Fragmentation has never been the issue that Apple suggests that it is. I'd much rather deal with that and get to make some UI choices, than be locked into Apple's way of doing thing.

Re:Misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074273)

Fragmentation has never been the issue that Apple suggests that it is.

Apple isn't suggesting it at all. Most Android devs complain about it though. Most mobile shops target iOS first, then work on targeting and testing on the large variety of Android devices.

...locked into Apple's way of doing thing.

And now we know why you're blaming Apple for everything... Fuck off fanboy.

Re:Misses the point (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#44074135)

Yes, exactly. A lot of the reason Gingerbread sticks around is because it's not a bad OS at all and it is the last version that had non-OpenGL based graphics. So it can run on pretty meagre hardware compared to ICS+. Some manufacturers are using Android's openness to fix the OS version and push down the price rather than keep price stable and push up the OS. Both approaches are valid and both are needed - the fact that Apple is blind to this market reality says more about them than Android.

Anyway this ignores the fact that Apple routinely updates older devices to the 'latest' OS that is actually something claiming to be the latest version, but doesn't have most of the new features. It's easy to play games with version numbers if you simply strip out anything requiring the latest hardware and still call it the latest OS.

Re:Misses the point (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#44074501)

I'd be quite happy if Android vendors did any sort of backport to older devices, even a hobbled one with the latest features stripped out. Apple's platform has plenty of issues around running on older hardware, sure. Their record for continuously pushing out security updates to devices that are a few years old is, on average, way ahead of everything but the Nexus Android phones though. The way vendors abandon old hardware in Android land is building a frighteningly large installed base of badly secured phones out there. One component to the cheaper Android phones is that they're putting $0 into worrying about any long-term security issues on that hardware, and I worry about how that will bite everyone in the ass one day.

Re:Misses the point (0)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about a year ago | (#44074515)

Ok, first, claiming that older devices don't get "most of the new features" ignores just how many new features there are in each new version of iOS. Anyone who pays a hint of attention knows that the feature list for each new version is quite long. Just because Apple only focuses on ten or 12 of them for marketing material does not mean those are the only new features. (And missing out on one or two features of ten or 12 still doesn't constitute "most", but that's a separate issue.)

Second, those graphics are targeted at developers. The feature list _FOR DEVELOPERS_ of each new version of iOS includes _HUNDREDS_ of new APIs, the vast, vast, vast majority of which run on all devices supported by the OS.

So, _FOR DEVELOPERS_, they can develop, with some degree of confidence, targeting the latest version of the OS with knowledge that they are hitting the majority of the iOS market and will function on devices up to three years old. _FOR DEVELOPERS_, this is incredibly helpful.

The fact that you, as a consumer, didn't get Siri because your device is two or three years old sucks but there are hundreds and hundreds of other new features in the operating system update that you got updated for free.

Meanwhile your buddy, with a two or three year old Android phone has never seen an OS update unless they tore into the device to install it on their own...

Re:Misses the point (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44074583)

Also, how much of the sales of Android are BECAUSE of the fragmentation? Or in other words, is Android successful BECAUSE of fragmentation? If I had a device that continued to be upgraded from 3.x to 4.x and beyond, would I be so anxious to jump to the new versions (sort of like how the 4s wasn't a big enough reason to jump from the 4)?

Android IS successful because of fragmentation. Because it means device makers can scale their devices to whatever price point they way. For example, you can have a flagship phone like an SGS4. But you can also make a crap phone for $100 and call it Android as well. The big thing is that carriers LOVE cheap phones - they get you in a contract for a $100 off contract phone? Lots of money for them. In fact, the biggest Android phones by sales volumes ARE the free phones.

Yes, the previous SGS3 sold a lot, but it isn't for example, the majority of Android phones sold (it's around 10%). The rest of the phone sales went to Samsung's other cheaper models.

People see an iPhone 5 on the shelf, see the $300 price tag, and get turned off. People see a Samsung Galaxy Whatchamacallit for $0 in big bold letters? Sold. Doesn't matter that the screen is "small", or that the processor is barely 1GHz, if that, or it has 512MB of RAM, and ships with 2.3.

It's free. That's all that matters.

So yes, fragmentation helps because manufacturers can make "free phones" carriers love to ship that take little subsidy over the flagships and iPhones.

Of course, it also means a lot of Android users have POS phones that run poorly. Which can explain why the user satisfaction with Android is on the low side (it's lower than Windows Phone...). The people who love them are the ones who spend the money for the SGS4 and the like, but they're the minority. Everyone else just gets a POS crap that barely runs Android.

Re:Misses the point (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#44074019)

Get real. Probably 3/4 of the iDevice 'market share/install base' won't even run iOS 6. Apple obsoletes their hardware quickly. I have three iPod Touches and they've all been abandoned by Apple to varying degrees. I am heartily disappointed at how quickly App developers 'buy into' the new API bells and whistles and push themselves off devices whose paying customers might want to buy their product.

It's painfully obvious to anybody with an older iDevice that Apple is a hardware vendor first and abandons the hardware primarily to sell more new gadgets.

Yeah. "Get a new gadget." Why be the dummy with the old stuff. There's new shiney and you're not cool if you don't wait in line for it.

Re:Misses the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074057)

Guess what - 33% (Jellybean segment) of 75% (total android market share) is 24% of the total market... which is still more than iOS's 17%... Even considering fragmentation, Apple is still falling behind.

Re:Misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074141)

Falling behind in what? A junkyard class piece of spyware OS with numbskulls for users? Apple has always deliberately fallen behind in that.

Re:Misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074321)

does the apple scrotum taste like apple, or aluminum, just curious.

Re:Misses the point (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44074121)

No. If you want maximum coverage, target API 10 and you cover 95% of all Android devices.

If you really want the latest API features and aren't as concerned with compatibility, choose a later API.

Re:Misses the point (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44074235)

"Three different versions of android are going to present three different APIs that app developers are going to have to deal with."

You're claiming that all Android APIs change with each new version? Changes only occur to a small subset - mostly because it adds functionality which benefits developers, and with a strong desire to maintain backward compatibility. And a significant part of the fragmentation is to support consumer choice. I'll assert it's only the apps which push the boundaries which are meaningfully impacted, I've got apps which ran on my OG Droid running on my current phone, with no updates.

Microsoft seems to change APIs greatly between Windows releases, yet it hasn't seemed to hurt them much (UI changes are a different issue) - that's the advantage of market share.

But, more directly to your point - Android market share is 4x that of iOs, so even if a developer had to do 3 different codestreams for 3 completely different APIs, they'd still be ahead developing for Android, even ignoring the efficiencies offered by what is in common, and the uncertainty of getting into the walled garden.

Re:Misses the point (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year ago | (#44074447)

Note where Apple collects the stats from.... the app store. It stands to reason that users with older hardware are probably less active users and will be under represented.

Re:Misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074519)

They are talking about what the actual platforms in use are and which ones are going to present the best area for developers to target.

Oh really? Or is 'best area' slang for 'least market penetration'. Didn't you check the numbers???

Android's market share is 75% while IOS is only 17.3%. If a developer targets only 'one' of the

three different APIs that app developers are going to have to deal with

they've opened 25% of the market share, which is still more than all your IOS put together. And Android market grew like wildfire while IOS just keeps slipping behind.

So tell me, as a developer, should I develop for 25% market share in a growing market? Or should I settle for 17.3% of a shrinking market.

There's a point that was missed all right.

Re:Misses the point (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44074545)

Why write for all three? In my limited experience, the people still running gingerbread, who have pressed "No, don't update" on their phones are the ones who use their phones for texting, e-mails, as a camera, facebook... and that's it. Maybe they'll download instagram or twitter, and play with angry birds for a while, but they're not downloading the hot new app all the kids are talking about wherever it is young people talk about phones. Just release it for the current one and let them update if they want it.

Re:Misses the point (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44074597)

Loads of people have phones for which there is no update, even though their phone is capable of running ics or jb. I'll go to JB when my touchpads work properly on it.

Which Adoption? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44073945)

Consumers or Developers?

The graph is trying to entice people to develop for iOS as there is much less api versioning to deal with. All of that is mostly transparent to end user, not their problem.

Re:Which Adoption? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44074161)

There's less API versioning to deal with because Apple controls the platform and removes support for older devices periodically. Android will let you sell to customers no matter how long they've owned the device, as long as it supports the API calls necessary to run your app.

It's a shame that they cheaped out on the refund period, going from 24 hours when I got mine a few years back, to only 15 minutes at the present. 15 minutes is insufficient time to evaluate any application with any thoroughness. Some apps take longer than that to just run through the first time.

It may not be hurting adoption... (4, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year ago | (#44073947)

But that wasn't the point of the graphic. The graphic was created by Apple to tell developers that they should target the newest version of iOS exclusively, if possible.

Now imagine making that argument on Android. Anyone suggesting that an Android developer should seriously target 4.2 exclusively would be laughed out of the room.

This article is missing the point. It was a dig at Android for hurting developers, not necessarily users.

not just OS version... think screen sizes (1)

1800maxim (702377) | about a year ago | (#44074007)

If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions.

Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)

Re:not just OS version... think screen sizes (2)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year ago | (#44074021)

If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions.

Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)

I actually have a feeling the screen resolution thing isn't going to hold. Apple is going to go with multiple screens eventually.

I program part time for Android, and the screen resolution thing isn't actually what bothers me on Android. A lot of other things do bother me and make iOS still my favorite platform. But both platforms have very effective tools for dealing with screen size differences (Android more in practice, and iOS more in theory at this point.)

Re:not just OS version... think screen sizes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074063)

Yeah, and Android has what, like 8? NOT a win for Android in that department...

Re:not just OS version... think screen sizes (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year ago | (#44074397)

That, and more significantly the iPad / iPhone difference has caused me far more headaches than Android's zoo of screen sizes.

Android was designed from the ground up for arbitrary screen dimensions. iOS wasn't. iOS couldn't even deal with it effectively until iOS 6.0.

Re:It may not be hurting adoption... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year ago | (#44074089)

"some 33 percent of Android devices run some variant (either 4.1.x or 4.2.x) of the 'Jelly Bean' build,"

"According to recent data from research firm IDC, Android's market-share stood at 75 percent in the first quarter of 2013 â" up from 59.1 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS owned 17.3 percent of the market"

Targeting just 4.2 is perhaps rather overly specific, unless there are major differences in programming for 4.2 vs 4.1 that i'm not aware of? Given the above numbers if a developer were to target just Jelly Bean they would hit 0.75 * 0.33, or 25% of the total market, compared to the 0.173 * 0.93, or 16% of the total market. That seems like a pretty reasonable choice to me.

Re:It may not be hurting adoption... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44074175)

It's a fairly weak dig since it's quite easy to target an earlier version. Some of the cool stuff introduced in later versions can be added to your app as a module.

And startup costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074285)

To start as an iOS developer I'd need about $1700 - $1100 for an Apple computer, $500 for an iOS device and $100 for an Apple Developer subscription so I can publish.

Android (starting from scratch because my machines are too slow to run the emulator:Core Duo 2140) $500 for machine, $200 for Android Device and I'm DONE for $700.

I can live with fragmentation.

It's caused by the tons of crappy handsets (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44073957)

Much of the fragmentation is probably due to the huge amount of junk Android handsets that are purchased for their price not their features. People who get them aren't expecting much and developers don't target them.

Re:It's caused by the tons of crappy handsets (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#44074009)

Or forked versions of Android such as the original Kindle Fire?

Adoption is all very well, but... (3, Insightful)

danaris (525051) | about a year ago | (#44073981)

...who's going to buy your app?

If you've got to target 6 or so major differences in versions—not to mention the differences in hardware—to reach the same percentage of Android users as you could reach in iOS users by targeting only iOS 6, that's got to say something about the ROI you can expect.

And that's not even taking into account the many datapoints showing that Android users buy something like half, or less, the amount of apps per device that iOS users do. (I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but my memory suggests it was considerably less—like, closer to 10% than 50%.)

The reason Android's adoption is high is pretty damn obvious to anyone who's actually paying attention: the phones occupying the space in carrier lineups that, seven years ago, would have been held by dumbphones are now cheap Android phones. People buy Android not because they're choosing it, but because that's what happens to come on their phone...which they use almost exclusively to talk and text. (And maybe check Twitter and Facebook.)

Dan Aris

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074131)

THANK YOU.

The real competition to Apple is the Samsung Galaxy S[3,4] and maybe the HTC flagship phone. Everything else is just the new dumb phone. This is where Samsung is going to position the Tizen OS and gut the Android numbers.

When you see studies of the Flagship phones per manufactures then you see some real numbers.

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#44074169)

Except that cheap Android device are still a million years better than the old JavaME feature phones were. If people who buy cheap phones aren't buying your apps, maybe the issue is nobody is selling them a useful enough app? There's certainly an untapped market there. People should see that as an opportunity, not some sign of "weakness".

Heck, I'm an advanced user with plenty of money and the fact is, all the apps I want or could need on Android are free anyway. I bought TuneIn Pro because I listen to net radio a lot and it was worth it. Otherwise the apps I use most frequently are gratis.

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (1)

danaris (525051) | about a year ago | (#44074721)

Except that cheap Android device are still a million years better than the old JavaME feature phones were. If people who buy cheap phones aren't buying your apps, maybe the issue is nobody is selling them a useful enough app? There's certainly an untapped market there. People should see that as an opportunity, not some sign of "weakness".

That may be the case, but then the problem is awareness. If these users aren't buying apps, I guarantee you it isn't because they're browsing through the Google Play store and just saying, "Meh, don't want to pay for any of these." (Partly because, IIRC, the stats show that they aren't even installing free apps.) It's because they're not even thinking of their phones as smartphones. They don't browse the web, they don't look at the Google Play store, many of them don't even realize that it exists.

If you want them to pay for your app, first you need to build it for the version of Android they're running, then you need to get them interested in your app, and finally you need to make them realize that they can actually get it.

So, yes, there is certainly a large potential untapped market for a really useful Android app. However, tapping it is far from trivial.

Dan Aris

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074217)

"to reach the same percentage of Android users as you could reach in iOS users by targeting only iOS 6, that's got to say something about the ROI you can expect."

If iOS6 runs on fewer devices you would have to sell more to iOS users to reach 1/2 of the users running Android.
If Android is 75% and iOS is only 17% and 1/2 of Android users got a app and 1/2 iOS. iOS would not come close. The app on iOS would have to sell a lot more to reach 1/2 of Android. Maybe this is why the apps on Android are free with ads. They make more money with a few ads then if they would sell the app. And for iOS they have to sell it case the ads in the app would not even come close to the amount it is sold for.

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44074223)

That's a false dilemma you've got there. Android includes tools to manage the fragmentation. If you're having to individually target particular handsets, you're doing it wrong.

People buy Android, because they don't want to be overcharged for Apple's iOS walled garden, and don't want to be limited to only Apple's selections. I'm sure that some people buy Android because it's less expensive, but that's a perfectly legitimate reason for choosing it. Just because you're an Apple fanbois doesn't make it any less legitimate to remain cost conscious.

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074461)

If you've got to target 6 or so major differences in versionsâ"not to mention the differences in hardwareâ"to reach the same percentage of Android users as you could reach in iOS users by targeting only iOS 6, that's got to say something about the ROI you can expect.

Why would you want to target the same percent? You can target one version of Android and target more devices than all version of iOS combined.

And that's not even taking into account the many datapoints showing that Android users buy something like half, or less, the amount of apps per device that iOS users do. (I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but my memory suggests it was considerably lessâ"like, closer to 10% than 50%.)

I've seen more articles that say this is a myth than say it's true.

The reason Android's adoption is high is pretty damn obvious to anyone who's actually paying attention: the phones occupying the space in carrier lineups that, seven years ago, would have been held by dumbphones are now cheap Android phones. People buy Android not because they're choosing it, but because that's what happens to come on their phone...which they use almost exclusively to talk and text. (And maybe check Twitter and Facebook.)

So people are buying a better phone (does exactly what they want) for less money. Why does that bother you so much?

Re:Adoption is all very well, but... (1)

danaris (525051) | about a year ago | (#44074737)

I've seen more articles that say this is a myth than say it's true.

Do you have a reference link? I've not seen any articles saying this is a myth, and a lot giving what look like pretty solid statistics to show it to be true. I'll freely admit that I don't frequent Android-centric sites, though, so if you've got references, I'd be glad to see them.

So people are buying a better phone (does exactly what they want) for less money. Why does that bother you so much?

It doesn't. Where did you get that idea?

Dan Aris

Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling phone (4, Informative)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44073989)

It has everything to do with being able to develop for phones. The article misses the point entirely.

As someone who develops for both, testing in Android *is* a pain in the ass. Developing in it is a breeze. The minor issues you run into on varying handsets is just a nightmare to deal with. The small variances because manufactures can't develop to API specifications correctly.

I question anyone who says it isn't an issue. Either you aren't doing development or you haven't built something complex enough to see the various issues.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#44074155)

I wish there were some type of test suite that phone makers could offer to emulate their products, just to see if things run, and report exceptions thrown. That way, if I write an app, I don't get a bunch of one star, "FCs on my blahblah" reviews, on some device that I've never heard about (such as BLU phones which are extremely popular south of the US.)

That way, if one device did keep crashing my app, I can at least stick a warning about it.

Android fragmentation isn't as bad as people point it out to be. If worried about it, just set the bar to 4.0 or 4.1 and call it done.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#44074233)

If they could do a job at making platform-specific test suites chances are that they could probably just make their platforms follow the specs properly and you wouldn't need that test suite in the first place...

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#44074619)

> I wish there were some type of test suite that phone makers could offer to emulate their products,

There is... kind of... the pile of old Android phones most Android developers have accumulated by now ;-)

My pile: HTC HeroC, Samsung Epic4G, Motorola Photon, Galaxy S3 (current phone). Of the phones in the pile, only the Photon sits (battery removed) unloved and hated in a drawer, awaiting the day someone cracks that poor gimped phone's Motorola-permalocked 2.3.5 bootloader, breaks its chains & shackles, and lets it play Martin Luther King's "Free at Last!" exclamation while booting into Cyanogen.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44074257)

And this is somehow different from the PC market?

I can't recall the last time I heard anybody complaining about the PC market being fragmented. It's standard for Apple to use fragmentation as an argument against their opposition, because they want to make all the decisions for the end users. It's easy to eliminate fragmentation when you limit the option to things that you've chosen.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#44074391)

The PC market has hardware fragmentation, but you know what operating system you'll be running on. Mobile OSs change much more quickly.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year ago | (#44074555)

Sure. It'll be running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 7. If it's a Mac it'll probably be running some flavor of OSX.

All that 'fragmentation' doesn't seem to hurt the PC market too badly.

--Jeremy

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44074643)

And this is somehow different from the PC market?

I can't recall the last time I heard anybody complaining about the PC market being fragmented.

Except that APIs like DirectX and the like smooth over a lot of the differences.

And people do complain - because they complain PC games are ports of consoles. And that ATI sucks because you need to install this beta driver to play this game. Or NVidia sucks for the same reason.

Hell, how many times have you heard that Intel graphics sucks? (And Intel graphics is the most popular by volume). Or how games on PCs have very little AAA titles, more indie games targeting lower end systems?

Of course, Windows itself doesn't actually add many new killer features - maybe by DirectX level, so you don't actually lose that much if you target say, Windows XP.

Thing is, Windows is remarkably unfragmented - a lot of differences are hidden away. Graphics? Intel. AMD. NVidia. It's remarkably easy to develop for them because you pick a card and use it. Windows? DirectX 9, 10, 11. They add spiffy eye candy the later you go, but unless you have a huge budget, you probably can stick with 9 because taking advantage of those features gets more difficult (and the need for fancier assets that cost more increases).

Screen size? Well, this one is interesting because PC gamers almost universally say the default FOV sucks and hack in their own values.

Beyond that, Windows abstracts it all - audio, keyboard, mouse, hard disk, network, etc. The PC is more monoculture now than ever. Hell, Android fragmentation can be akin to PCs when they ran DOS where you had dozens of video cards (with drivers that were completely different), audio boards could be somewhere in the memory map, etc.

Those were NOT fun days.

Re:Fragmentation has nothing to do with selling ph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074279)

Manufactures can easily develop to API specifications; happens all the time in the embedded world.

Carries on the other hand refuse to develop to API specifications instead they have to throw their own into the mix.

I'm still running the Original iPhone on 3.1.3 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44073997)

I am the 1%!

In before everybody flips their shit. It is my main phone and I see no reason to upgrade.

Re:I'm still running the Original iPhone on 3.1.3 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074185)

Apparently you've never accidentally pressed the wrong button on iTunes, had something happen where you had to have the Apple Store help you out, had to perform a factory/carrier official unlock, had to restore your phone because some stupid thing that should never break was broken and you got exhausted over trying to figure your way around it for 3 hours...

The point is that Apple has it's users by the short hairs. This graph certainly shows that.

Re:I'm still running the Original iPhone on 3.1.3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074213)

It's factory unlocked and I've restored it via iTunes more than a few times. I fail to see your point.

Re:I'm still running the Original iPhone on 3.1.3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074413)

Since those problems don't generally happen with apple devices, it's nit really saying anything that this user hasn't encountered them. My iPhone 3Gs, is still doing fine, still gets updates and has run every app I've tried to download for it.

Re:I'm still running the Original iPhone on 3.1.3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074221)

If I hadn't dropped my OG iPhone for the too-many-eth time and cracked the bottom essential edge of the screen, I would absolutely still be rocking that. I didn't care that it was Edge, it was certainly fast enough for anything I ever did.

Suspicious numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074065)

I guess I'm the 1% here -- as is my wife, since we're both on iOS 3/4 with old 3rd gen ipod touches. Of course, since both of them just live their lives as "better integration with car or bookshelf stereo than a mp3 cd or mp3 usb stick", maybe they'd rather not count us, but I suspect there's many an old ios device that can't run the current version that are still functional.

I thank yoBu for your time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074083)

Market Share vs Fragmentation (2)

ernest.cunningham (972490) | about a year ago | (#44074103)

Apple's point is that their installed base (no matter what size or market share it is) has very little fragmentation allowing those who develop for the platform to target only the newest iOS. For developers this is a big deal.

Getting market share because you re selling junk like this the Samsung Pocket that still comes with Android 2.3 is not helping out anybody. The security implications of running this older OS is also an issue.

I am not advocating one side or the other. I am saying the OP countered the point Apple were making with a somewhat irrelevant argument.

Re:Market Share vs Fragmentation (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#44074679)

Getting market share because you re selling junk like this the Samsung Pocket that still comes with Android 2.3 is not helping out anybody. The security implications of running this older OS is also an issue.

Android 2.3.x is for single-processor phones (like the Samsung Pocket).

And no, what you're implying is completely false. Android 2.3 gets all relevant security updates (it just doesn't change its major version number on a whim like iOS does). In fact, if you just look at the security community, most of the secure forks of Android are still based on Android 1.6 or Android 2.x, because those older versions have been vetted and analyzed the most.

API level (5, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44074115)

Most of it's that the "fragmentation" in Android really isn't visible at the developer level. Sure you've got a lot of versions. But in general the API changes between versions don't break backwards compatibility: if you wrote code for API level 8 (Android 2.2), it's almost certainly going to run just fine on a device running API level 17 (Android 4.2.2). It mostly comes down to picking the minimum API level that supports all the features you need and writing to that. There's only a relatively few places where you need to explicitly handle differences, eg. coding for "If the device supports NFC then hook up the handlers for it, otherwise don't bother.". Most of those are just like that, simple feature tests: does this device have GPS, does it have a camera, and so on. Only a small minority are truly complicated to handle and need special coding based on the Android version.

It's a lot like cars. There's how many car manufacturers, and how many hundred different models? Yet when you sit down in one you don't worry about that huge degree of fragmentation. The controls will mostly be where they ought to be and the ones that aren't aren't safety-critical and aren't that hard to figure out, and while the shape of the fenders and design of the taillights may change the looks dramatically that doesn't really impact your ability to drive it.

Re:API level (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074195)

That is a silly argument really. So all those who are gunning modern versions of Android with newer API's that come with additional features should miss out on using those new features because you decided to design and code your apps for an older OS?

Are you actually a developer?

iOS developers should not code up new games in SpriteKit because they should code everything for iOS 3 right?

Re:API level (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#44074255)

What you're missing is that quite a few APIs get backported to older OS releases. It's less efficient to have apps contain copies of the libraries like that, but it does work. The trend is in this direction e.g. with play services. Obviously you can't backport everything like that, but a lot of the important stuff is (like new map widgets, etc). The difference between ICS and jellybean, API wise, isn't that huge. The big leap was Gingerbread to ICS. So, you really only have to pick between those two. You can just pretend Gingerbread doesn't exist if you like, the market share will still be larger than iPhone.

Re:API level (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about a year ago | (#44074487)

The vast majority of apps have no need to target the very latest API level... API levels 8 or 9 (Android 2.2 or 2.3) will have all the functionality they need.

Re:API level (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44074553)

Most of that, though, is feature tests. You don't care about the API level, you test "What's this device's screen resolution?", "Does this device have NFC?" and so on. If the test is positive, you start using that feature. If the test was negative, you avoid using it. In terms of code, you set a minimum API level to the lowest common denomiator that you require, then target the minimum API level that supports the features you want to use and code to check feature support before trying to use features. There's a trick to testing when you don't know if the API level you're running on supports what you want to test, but if you're a serious Android developer you don't need me to hand-hold you through it. If you're a serious Java developer you probably already know it too, it's how you write code to take advantage of Java 7 API additions if you're in a J7 VM while still being able to run in a J6 VM.

Version Is Not the Only Form of Fragmentation (1)

organgtool (966989) | about a year ago | (#44074157)

Another form of fragmentation is different hardware, including screen sizes and resolutions. While the variety of iOS devices and hardware is not as big as Android, I'm sure that the differences still cause headaches for their developers. And there's no doubt that Android suffers more from version fragmentation, largely because Android phone manufacturers don't have the balls to stop accepting money from the telcos and other parties for incorporating their shovelware.

With that said, I'm surprised that so many people have upgraded to iOS 6. When I had an iPhone, I got to the point where I stopped upgrading it because the new versions were too demanding for my phone despite the fact that my phone qualified for the update. Maybe Apple has gotten better in that respect.

App revenue (4, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44074167)

Android has 75% of the device shipments, but Apple has 74% of app revenue. Fragmentation may not affect device shipments, but it certainly seems to be affecting other things.

Look at it another way. Android has 75% device shipment marketshare. Apple has 18%. This means Google ships 4.17x as many devices. But (not knowing the Android app store marketshare), Apple has a minimum of 2.85x the overall app store revenue.

This means that Apple devices, on average, produce roughly 12x the app revenue. Is this because of platform fragmentation? Is this because of Apple's demograhics? I don't know, but dismissing fragmentation based purely on device shipment market share is shortsighted.

Re:App revenue (3, Interesting)

eddy (18759) | about a year ago | (#44074317)

Evidence suggests otherwise. Android vs iOS Game Myths [gamasutra.com]

Re:App revenue (4, Insightful)

harperska (1376103) | about a year ago | (#44074609)

Anecdote is not the singular of data. When aggregate studies show that more money is to be made developing for iOS, two games by one studio that buck that trend do not negate the aggregate. It just provides an interesting data point that happens to be an outlier. Independent studies that unbiasedly sample a large number of apps that are on both platforms which show that the conventional wisdom is wrong would be newsworthy. As would analysis of apps like this to see why they buck the trend, and whether that difference can be capitalized in other apps. But to use a single data point simply as a counterpoint to a trend is laughable.

Why do losers tout "shipment" (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44074189)

and "channel sales" while conveniently omitting the true numbers sold? Is there that big a difference between the number they sold to actual consumers and the number shipped into the "channel"? If so then your product is a loser.

Microsoft can stuff the channel with 50 million Surface tablets tomorrow but that doesn't mean jack since the actual number sold to consumers can be counted with the fingers and toes on your body.

Apple frags (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44074227)

Apple still has feature fragmentation. Airdrop is going to be Iphone 5 or above only. I find it hard to believe an iphone 4 cant exchange files in the field.

Re:Apple frags (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074421)

Apple still has feature fragmentation. Airdrop is going to be Iphone 5 or above only. I find it hard to believe an iphone 4 cant exchange files in the field.

An iPhone 4 can - use ShareKit and BlueTooth. AirDrop requires specific hardware support but that doesn't stop you sharing files on iOS using BlueTooth. However, iOS7 will be the first time Apple provides an out-of-the-box feature that allows an end-user to do this without using a specific app.

Re:Apple frags (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074603)

I find it funny that Apple is adding all the things it said the users didn't need.

There are two axis for fragmentation. (2, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44074271)

There are two axis for fragmentation.

The graph is showing the one that doesn't matter, since you can always target a subset of the APi which is supported by all the versions of the OS; that's the same for both iOS and Android, and it's just common sense code portability. The first product I worked on out of college was TERM software for a small company called Century Software in Salt Lake City, Utah, At one point, we had greater market penetration for async communications software on UNIX systems than UUCP, and UNIX systems came with UUCP for free. We also ran on VMS, BTOS, CP/M, MP/M, Mac OS, and half a dozen other non-UNIX platforms, as well as the 140+ UNIX platforms we ran on.

The secret to this success was to have as small a porting surface as possible, and that's eminently possible with both iOS and Android, although that type of design and coding tends to not be taught in colleges and universities these days, it's still eminently possible. It's just a matter of API contracts.

The other axis is hardware differences, and you can't ignore those for either iOS or Android. Those are the ones you can't get around with API contracts, because they touch on different device capabilities - the most important of which is screen aspect ratio, and that's the very thing that iPhone 5 broke, and it's the very thing the original iPad broke. Sure, there are other important parts to this; there the "I" in "I/O" as well, in particular, of all the sensors, there's keyboard inputs, but for the most part, that has fallen out to touch interfaces, which pretty much everyone other than Blackberry has agreed upon, and GPS. All the other sensors are much less useful to most apps.

If you talk to a Rovio engineer (and I have) on this issue, they effectively target a dozen iOS hardware platforms: to get the best user experience, and to get where they are today, with "Angry Birds" being the top selling mobile game of all time, they've had to adjust to aspect ration, resolution, and OS version. Being a game has meant having a much larger porting surface, in terms of OS interaction. And yeah, this means several dozen Android platforms, as well as their other platforms, but the difference between a dozen and several dozen isn't as large as the difference between 1 and a dozen.

Rather than pointing to Apple infographics, you'd be much better off pointing at the biggest success story in the industry, and doing as they do, rather than doing as Apple would have you do, since it's more important to be a top seller than it is to be portable, if the end goal is popularity with users and income.

Re:There are two axis for fragmentation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074427)

What's the big deal? Doesn't Rovio just keep the Angry Birds resolution the same on every device and make the ads bigger to fill the remaining space?

yuho Fail It! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074295)

Annoyed fanboy? (1, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#44074309)

This really, really sounds like an Android fan who just can't stand it if Apple has something good to say about iOS.

Fact #1: Apple doesn't care about the market share of Android. Apple's market share in the phone market has been growing every year since 2007 when it started at zero. Today, cheap feature phones are being replaced with cheap smartphones. But if you don't buy a $600 iPhone but choose a $100 phone instead, Apple doesn't care whether that $100 phone is a Nokia feature phone or a cheap Android phone.

Fact #2: Developers don't care about market share, they care about the number of people who are willing to pay for software. Someone who pays $600 for a phone (iOS or Android) is much more likely to pay for software than someone who paid $100 (Android or feature phone).

The market fragmentation in itself is not the problem. The problem is that those on a three year old OS are not likely to buy any software. (You are free to assume otherwise and either write software that runs on the oldest OS and doesn't use any features of the newer OS, or put in lots of work to work fine everywhere). Which means the number of potential buyers is much lower than the number of Android users. It also seems to indicate that many new phones actually ship with an old OS.

Re:Annoyed fanboy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074671)

You really, really sound like an Apple fan that can't stand it if someone has something good to say about Android.

Re:Annoyed fanboy? (1)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year ago | (#44074703)

You must be somewhat mathematically challenged, because even if you and Apple are right, targeting a subset of 75% of the market is still better than targeting nearly all of 17% of the market.

I have to admit that I'm experiencing some glee in seeing Apple's marketshare numbers fall just as I'd predicted years ago. I don't care that Apple exists; they're just way too much of a bully to be trusted with a dominant marketshare. It's also very amusing to see the moving goalpost reasons provided by Apple fanbois about why iOS is so much better than Android.

--Jeremy

Does Fragmentation Matter? (1)

west (39918) | about a year ago | (#44074365)

If you are interested in software sales, the only thing that matters is how many people are going to actually *buy* your app.

The real question is how many dollars a year users of each version are spending on apps (and if developers are considering iOS, how the dollars per year compare with Apple users).

My completely anecdotal guess is developers can pretty safely forget v.2.x of Android without hugely harming sales.

The real question (and I don't have enough info) is should developers who are trying to make a living from apps forget about Android apps altogether? (i.e. is it like writing and selling Linux applications - can be done, but you don't do it for the $ alone)?

Quick Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074369)

If you don't have time to read the entire article, the summary is "Choose Apple: We Have Lots of Idiots With Too Much Disposable Income"

Cheap phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074409)

Who cares about market share/shipped units when the revenue for the whole platform clearly doesn't match it.

Android took over the feature/dumb phone market and is filled with people who only cares about getting a cheap phone for Facebook.

As a developer, it's not as fragmented now.. (2)

goruka (1721094) | about a year ago | (#44074485)

For applications, it never wasn't much of a problem.
However for games, the biggest problems I faced were the different configurations of the CPU (some included NEON and some didn't, which improves performance enormously), and the GPU ( OpenGL ES implementations were buggy depending on drivers, different texture compression schemes, etc).

Nowadays, everything is coming out with NEON and future phones are starting to support OpenGL ES 3.0, which is much more standarized (that will take some years to settle though). However, it's mainly supporting the 4 main architectures properly by checking the extensions: Tegra, Adreno, Mali and PowerVR. There are more (like the Rockchip ones, but those usually come with crappy hardware), but supporting those means that your app or game will run pretty much anywhere.
The challenge is probably dealing with different screen resolutions and aspect ratios, which wasn't a problem on iOS until recently (iPhone 5).

Shipments are not Sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074695)

Android does not have a 70%+ market share, Shipments are not sold. For all we know those are in warehouses or being landfilled as we speak.

Stat's don't lie.
http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_browser-ww-monthly-201205-201305
Android has 31% and dropping, iOS has 23.9% and dropping. That's a 7% difference.

http://www.netmarketshare.com/
  Safari 59.98%
  Android Browser 20.73%
  Opera Mini 10.53%
  Chrome 3.22%
  Microsoft Internet Explorer 1.97%
  BlackBerry 1.02%

The key thing people keep missing, especially fanboys of either Android or iOS, is that developers do not want to have to buy a dozen new devices every 3 months to check their software against. They want to write it once, and then not have to deal with the differences in the hardware or software. The best way to do that is to simply ignore Android until there is a demand from people with those devices. Nobody is going to make an Android-exclusive software, but they will make iOS exclusive.

The App ecosystem may have "free apps" but it certainly isn't open-source friendly, not one bit. Quite honestly the FOSS people are being forced at breakneck speed to make their software available on the iOS so someone else doesn't just require it, apply a fee/ads and get the revenue themselves.

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