This week, a survey of Android developers conducted by Baird's William Powers was highlighted by CNN's Fortune blog in a post titled "Android is a Mess, Say Developers." The results showed that a large number of developers have begun to build Android applications - in fact, 71% said they were building for Android, while 62% said they were building for iOS. But Fortune's blogger, the pro-Apple Philip Elmer DeWitt focused on another aspect of the survey's results: the problems that building for Android entails.

At the top of the list was the fragmentation issue, with 56% of developers saying it was a "meaningful" or "huge" problem. Do you agree? Let us know in this week's poll.

Fragmentation is Real, but How Much of a Problem?

This isn't the first time we've heard this complaint from developers. Fragmentation, not just of the OS itself, but the large number of Android devices and form factors out there, means that developers have to deal with a much more complicated environment than they do when building for the iPhone or iPad.

According to the survey, 24% of developers said fragmentation was a "huge" problem, 33% said it was a "meaningful" problem, 13% said it was somewhat of a problem and 17% said it was a problem. Only 14% said it was not a problem.

In addition, the survey asked about other issues, like store fragmentation (due to the alternative marketplaces for apps), ease of development, app visibility and the ability to get paid. Apparently, fragmentation made Android difficult to build for, because iOS beat it here on the "ease of development" question.

What also interested us in reading through this news were the comments on the original blog post. A sampling:

  • ..Android development is significantly easier because I'm a Java developer. Objective-C is only used on Apple...I'd have to learn a whole new language to build apps for the iPhone...Fragmentation can be solved by specifying hardware requirements in your manifest file.
  • I've been developing for both and Android development is much easier. Am I alone in this opinion?
  • Seems to me that the universe of this poll is way too limited. I develop for both and I think Android is much easier. Of course fragmentation is an issue but, like in any product develop cycle, you have to define who is the target of your product.
  • Seems odd to me that IOS is rated as easier to develop on, for the simple reason that Android development is done in Java, a language most developers new to the platform already know. Objective C is an elegant language, but it does have a learning curve.
  • What if Android is fragmented...what developers care for: "is there an audience big enough for me to make money?" If yes, they will go through any amount of pain.
  • As an Android developer with over 30,000 downloads I can say that "fragmentation" is a problem, but its a problem in the same way the CSS browser incompatibly is a problem. Yes its annoying but nobody is calling HTML/CSS "fragmented".
  • Missing the trees for the forest. Developers are CHOOSING Android first DESPITE what laypersons refer to as fragmentation. That should tell you something, namely that Android is a much more preferable development environment than iOS.

So, what do you think? Is Android fragmentation the "huge" and "meaningful" problem this survey says it is? And does that mean it makes Android much harder to build for? And by the way, how is it that the survey asked if something is a problem, a huge problem, a meaningful problem or somewhat of a problem all in the same question? Really?!

How about something a little more straightforward?

Is Android development a problem or not, or only somewhat?

You tell us - in what's hopefully a little less biased of a poll question.

Image credit: Ubergizmo