There are almost 12,000 unique Android devices on the market, posing a huge problem for app makers and leading to huge fragmentation of the ecosystem.
As Google's mobile operating system Android heads towards a predicted one billion device activations by the end of the year, the extent of the brand's fragmentation has been revealed with data from wireless signal app developer OpenSignal.
It graphically illustrated the huge variety of devices actively in use around the world. Based on statistics gathered from 682,000 devices, the firm found that 11,868 distinct devices are in use worldwide.
Samsung holdsd almost half of the Android market, well ahead of nearest rival Sony-Ericsson which holds 6.5 percent market share. Samsung's Galaxy S3, which was released in May 2012, is the most commonly used phone. It is closely followed by its predecessor, the Galaxy S2 and its successor the S4. The most popular non-Samsung device is Google's Nexus 4, which is manufactured by LG.
Image showing the different brands and market share of Android. Each square represents a different device and its position in the market. The top left square is the Samsung Galaxy S3.
In terms of operating system fragmentation, a much-maligned feature of the Android ecosystem, the report found that eight different versions of Android were still in use. Devices running the most recent OS versions, 4.1 and 4.2, were found to be the most common at 38 percent.
It also highlighted that among all of the different Android versions lie mobile operator and manufacturer "skins", adding yet more variety to an already complex marketplace. Apple, meanwhile, finds itself with 95 percent of devices running its most recent software, iOS 6.
While the sheer number of Android devices and versions does pose a daunting challenge to developers, OpenSignal also highlights the positives, citing Apple's rumored upcoming budget iPhone as vindication that budget devices hold a huge amount of influence in making a manufacturer successful.
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