If you use a mobile device that runs iOS, your choices from Apple are pretty simple. You can use an iPhone, iPad, iPad mini or iPod touch (though the company may be phasing out the iPod Touch). Android devices, on the other hand, offer almost unlimited choices.
According to a study by OpenSignal, they counted 18,796 devices out there in 2014. This highlights the major difference between the two operating systems. Apple manufactures all iOS devices and controls price and distribution. Android is out there free and open for any device to use. Developers can make their own customized versions. Amazon did that with the Kindle Fire. The device is an Android tablet with a special Android skin designed for interacting with Amazon products and services.
In the mobile industry, this is referred to as “fragmentation.” And it is both the blessing and the curse of Android. It leads to a wide range of devices in every conceivable price range, from under $50 to over $1000 with a lot of really nice tablets in the $200 to $300 range. Apple tablets start at $300 for the iPad Mini and $500 for the iPad Air. Apple devices give you the choice of 4 screen sizes and around a dozen devices.
But there is not the uniform user experience between devices that an Apple user sees. For example 91% of Apple devices are running iOS7 with only 8% using iOS6. For Android, around 21% of users have the latest version KitKat, while 8% use Android 4.2, 20% use Android 4.2 and 27% use Android 4.1.
Android devices are highly-customizable to suit user needs, while Apple likes to have more control over the user experience.
According to a survey by Tab Times, 64% of Americans say they either own a tablet or live in a home where someone else owns a tablet and 44% of Americans between 8 and 64 own a tablet.
Part of that growth comes from the increasing distribution of so-called “white box” or generic tablets which are estimated to have 1/3 of the tablet shipment market.
This is good news and bad news for the Android platform. Fragmentation leads to lower prices and wider availability. It’s a challenge for app developers, since their apps need to work on 18,000 devices, not just 12.