As new handsets come with faster processors, better screens and more features, fragmentation of a platform is inevitable. When one talks about fragmentation it is about the experience offered.
Fragmentation affects the iPhone but Apple has an handle on the problem. They sell enough new phones for the developers to cater to that the platform doesn’t feel fragmented, at the same time, Apple caters to the different price points–$0 (iPhone 3Gs), $99 (iPhone 4) and $199 (iPhone 4S). Not all handsets get all the latest software features or apps. The good thing is, Apple still controls the fragmentation, defines it, and offers a consistent experience.
Android on the other hand is a complete mess. Google has no say over which OEM uses what version, whether the OEM pushes an update to the handsets and there are no chassis specs, we still have resistive touch phones out there. Essentially, the experience is broke and is not consistent.
Microsoft plans to find a middle ground once again. Like Apple, Microsoft will define new hardware chassis specs that will let OEMs build phones that have low RAM and processing power or scale to dual core processors with a lot of RAM. Microsoft will also define the user experience while letting OEMs customize features like the camera’s software capabilities. Back in September, Microsoft updated their chassis specs to remove the camera as a necessity and reduced the RAM requirement to 256MB.
Paul Thurrott talks about this in his latest blog post and explains that while some Windows Phones won’t have the same hardware features they will be able to browse through the entire app catalogue, but won’t be allowed to download apps that are incompatible with their phone. The approach makes sense since it gives the OEM and Microsoft a chance to expand and scale, while offering choice to the end-user.
The recently leaked Windows Phone 8 feature-set mentioned 4 new screen resolutions, Thurrott says this will let Microsoft offer devices that will fill in the gaps between the Windows 8 laptop and tablet screens.