Talkin’ about my f-f-f-fragmentation

If the sixties anthem was The Who’s “talking about my g-g-g-eneration,” then the mobile generation’s anthem is “talking about my f-f-f-ragmentation.”

Looking back to the eighties, life was simple. We had Atari families, Apple families and Commodore families. What started out as an iOS vs. Android battle has become a lot more complex in 2013.

We have phablets, hybrid tablet-laptops, a version of Android for every tooth decaying dessert and now, curved displays.

Have you ever seen someone use a phablet (phone + tablet) to make a call? They look like extras from Star Trek. Even “Q,” James Bond’s tech quartermaster, couldn’t have imagined today’s hybrid tablet-laptops (“tabtops” or “laplets?!”). There are 21 versions of Android, including the latest, KitKat.

It will be easier to count the stars in the Andromeda Galaxy than to count the number of smartphones that Samsung has released. By the time you finish reading this article, there will be another 5 new $99 tablets released in China.

What does this mean for you, the casual consumer, and for Israeli startups who create apps for mobile devices?

First of all, fragmentation is the price we pay for freedom. The only place on Earth that still does “one size fits all” is North Korea, and who’s making aliyah to Pyongyang?!

When it’s time to replace your smartphone, the best you can do is to get something used by 1% of the population. Ignore the pop culture noise and pick the 3 features that you *really* need. Do you see yourself having a conversation with your operating system? I don’t. I need a few apps that help me find my way to the nearest burger bar and then get home before indigestion kicks in.

Here’s a deep secret – your smartphone is mainly used to (drumroll, please) *call* people! I don’t need a phone that promotes world peace or unifies the four forces of nature. I want to be able to call, be called and turn it off. I use my tablet for the heavy lifting.

You don’t have to be a lifestyle coach to realize that you don’t want to take out a mortgage in order to buy a new phone. By the time you show it to your friends at work, your state-of-the-art device will be a retro-phone. Be practical and don’t look back.

For Israeli startups like Nubo and Waze, device fragmentation is a royal pain in the tuchus. Android developers have to create products that please every device. Mission impossible. My Galaxy Tab has a bar on the bottom that adds dozens of hours of development time. Every device manufacturer adds its own quirks that startups have to deal with.

Tired of endless app updates? The next time you see “more stable version” under “What’s New” on your favorite app, think of the platoon of young people who have to test it on 1,000+ mobile devices. Unemployed? Get a job in QA! Quality assurance means “try the app on every existing device.”

The moral of the story?

Mobile fragmentation consulting is the wave of the future.

About the Author
Kenny Sahr is a startup marketing executive. His first startup, founded in 1996, was featured in Time Magazine and on 60 Minutes. Kenny moved to Israel from Miami, Florida. In his spare time, he is an avid music collector and traveler.
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