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Is Fragmentation Already Here for Verizon iPhone? And Should We Care?

One of the clear strengths of the iOS platform is its uniformity. Developers may not always like the way Apple crafts and enforces it rules, but if nothing else it has led to a consistent platform. That was expected to change when Apple introduced new carriers - aka Verizon Wireless - into the mix, or so Android supporters hoped. Now it appears that such cracks may indeed be forming in the Apple iOS platform - although these initial signs are hardly equal to the fragmented approach that is the Android eco-system.

Telenav just made its GPS app was available for Verizon iPhone. It is similar to the original Navigator app for the AT&T iPhone, but works on the Verizon handset only. According to an interview with Zdnet, the developer said that Verizon iPhone required modifications to the Telenav app to make it work with the new hardware in the handset. The primary difference in the two versions of the iPhone lie in the radios (GSM vs. CDMA) and perhaps the GPS chipset.

The ramifications are clear, Zdnet concludes: other apps that talk directly to the hardware may not work on both versions of the iPhone and so app developers may have to produce a new version of the app for the Verizon handsets. No Surprise This shouldn’t come as that great of a surprise. When the Verizon iPhone launched it was obvious there were differences in the hardware - namely that the CDMA network does not allow user to talk and use data on the Verizon iPhone at the same time.

Even if worse examples of fragmentation in the iOS platform come to light, developers and smartphone manufacturers have proven adept at managing them. One only has to look as far as the, yes, Android.  While Canalys analyst believes that Android updates will begin to slow to one to two per year, so far they have been tracking within months of each other. A handset maker with several Android phones on the market has to update each one of these devices individually, no matter how similar the hardware, Mobile Mashup notes, pointing to the Samsung and its Galaxy S line. While they are similar, the company has to invest a lot of work into each handset to make sure it runs smoothly and that its custom TouchWiz UI runs well.

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