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Fragmentation in mobile OS market: Is it really a problem?

Lately one of the most popular topics for tech industry watchers to debate is the mobile operating system landscape.  Is it too fragmented?  Is there not enough competition?  Are there too many competitors?  Is this an issue for developers…or not?

(In fact there’s a whole Techmeme discussion from today led by Stephen Shankland’s CNET article “Angry Birds spotlights Android fragmentation”…more on that app and how it was ported to webOS below)

A new data point

The smartphone market is still in its early stages and it’s probably still too soon to have any hard and fast opinions on this matter.  But earlier this week, one of the leading investors in web and mobile startups, Fred Wilson, did contribute some meaningful new data and perspectives in a post titled “Fragmentation.”  Fred writes:

“Building web apps is not getting easier.  The fragmentation of operating systems and browsers is getting worse, not better.  Here’s a chart of the past thirty days of activity at” [visitors to Fred’s blog]
















He goes on to note that no OS/browser combo has more than a 17% share, and that there are five with more than 10% share.  That means that visitors to his blog are using a very wide variety of tools to read his posts.  If you’ve ever developed even the simplest of websites, you know that debugging them so they work perfectly for all your users (whether they use Internet Explorer on a PC or iOS on a iPhone) is a difficult – and often frustrating – task.  The same dynamic holds true for ‘apps’.

Palm GM shares his perspective at Web 2.0

Jon Rubinstein touched on this dynamic at a high level in his keynote interview at the Web 2.0 Summit this week, saying “to really innovate, you have to do the whole user experience…hardware, software, cloud services, marketing, packaging” and so on:




























How hard does porting Angry Birds really need to be?

Today’s discussion regarding Angry Birds developers is a meaningful one, for all the history and reasons Shankland reports in his post (go read it).  A thriving app ecosystem is clearly a key strategic differentiator in the mobile market going forward.

The only thing left missing from the conversation?  How easy it was to port Angry Birds to webOS.

As Peter Vesterbacka (of Rovio, the company developing Angry Birds) noted after the webOS launch back in August:

"We made the decision [to port to webOS] because it was so easy."

"It just took us a couple of days to get the first port done and then we had it up and running…I would say [it was] trivial to get the port done.”

Check out the full thirty minute interview with Peter here (the comments above come at about 18:50).


Finally, if you're a developer in the New York City area, please do come out to webOS Developer Day today and tomorrow, November 20, for a fun filled day of HP webOS education and training.

David Haschka(anon) | ‎12-09-2010 07:54 PM

To All you HP wizards:


Please, please, please develop a rudimentary voice recognition technology for the WEB-OS. I love my Pre but -- unlike my 10 year old Samsung 900 -- I still can't be giving it voice commands while I am driving. How hard can this be? It would save some lives, or at least some fenders.


David Haschka

Brent Kertz(anon) | ‎12-13-2010 08:46 PM

hdmi needs to be added on future devices.

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