This chart pretty much explains it all: Android is about as fragmented as you could make it. The above figure — which pales in comparison to a similar example we published recently — almost reminds me of a graham cracker someone just threw on the ground and stomped on, but it actually represents the insane amount of fragmentation that developers have to deal with when creating apps for Google’s mobile ad platform.

The chart was published by OpenSignalMaps recently, and it shows nearly 4,000 different ROMs that are deployed across thousands of Android devices. Here’s the conundrum: Which devices do developers support? Should they go after new ones, old ones or all of them? It’s no surprise that we see hit games like Order & Chaos end up running perfectly fine on some phones and yet never appearing in the market place for even more powerful devices. If a developer was to ignore older or less known devices, however, he or she could totally miss out on thousands of app sales.

OpenSignalMaps, as Ars Technica explains, collected data from an application that was downloaded over a six month period and found that it received information on more than 680,000 Android devices, among which were 3,997 different Android ROMs (many of which were custom). There were even devices we’ve never heard of, such as the 10.1-inch Concorde Tab from a Hungarian device maker, among a collection of 599 different total brands.

So what’s the solution? Perhaps keeping to one Android release per year so that manufacturers can catch up and push devices that only run the latest OS. That way developers might have just a hair of an easier time expanding their install base. Thankfully, rumor has it that Google will launch its latest OS in partnership with several device makers, which sounds like a step in the right direction.

[via Ars Technica]