Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls Android’s Fragmentation Issues a ‘Compounding Problem’

Apple ExecsApple’s most popular executives, CEO Tim Cook, Software Chief Craig Federighi, and Head of Design Jony Ive, sat down with Bloomberg for a chat about the state of the smart phone industry and Apple’s future in it. The comprehensive and detailed interview shed light on how the “big three” feel about cheap phones, working together, and Apple’s competition with the Android market.

According to Bloomberg, the Android market has been growing significantly over the past few years, while Apple’s iOS devices are slowing down. The Google Play app store had 10 percent more downloads in the second quarter of 2013. However, Apple’s App Store generated 2.3 times more revenue.

“I think it’s even more a two-operating-system world today than it was before,” Cook said in the interview with Bloomberg. “When you look at things like customer satisfaction and usage, you see the gap between Android and iOS being huge.”

He went on to say that there may be a lot of Android devices in the world, but Apple devices are the things actually being used. According to NetMarketShare, approximately 55 percent of all mobile Web activity comes from iOS devices while Android makes up only 28 percent. “Does a unit of market share matter if it’s not being used?” Cook said. “For us, it matters that people use our products. We really want to enrich people’s lives, and you can’t enrich somebody’s life if the product is in the drawer.”

Cook, again, pointed to a fragmented operating system with Android as being the cause of the unsatisfied customer base. Google creates new versions of Android regularly in order to keep up with technology, but doesn’t make the new operating system accessible or compatible with all devices that run it. So, your Android phone may not be very old, but you won’t be able to run an app that is only compatible on Jelly Bean. Approximately 45 percent of Android users have devices running the most current operating system, while the next largest percentage of users, 31 percent, are running on a version of Android that is three years old. According to Apple, 93 percent of iOS users were running the most current operating system until yesterday (the numbers are not out yet regarding iOS 7, but I’ll bet they are high).

Bloomberg mentioned a recent survey of current Android-based smart phones sold by AT&T. The survey showed that, of the 25 devices sold, six of them did not run on the most current operating system.

Tim Cook

Cook calls this a “compounding problem.” “It will show up in developers,” he says. “It will show up for people that no longer have access to certain apps. It will show up in security issues because if you’re not moving your customer base to the latest version, then you have to go back and plug holes in all of this old stuff, and people don’t really do that to a great degree.”

There may be more Android devices in the hands of consumers worldwide, but Apple has proven that its ecosystem is far superior to a fragmented operating system where a person could walk out of the store with a device that is essentially as old as iOS 4. That would make me put my phone in a drawer, too.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik

  • GeneralmotorsGravytrain

    From what I’ve heard, Google says Android doesn’t have a fragmentation problem.