Android users might not be happy to hear why Nintendo decided to bring Super Mario Run to the iPhone before their smartphones.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance in an interview published this month, famed video game developer and creator of the Super Mario Bros. franchise Shigeru Miyamoto said that Nintendo opted for the iPhone instead of Android to kick things off with Super Mario Run because of the “stability” of Apple’s iOS operating system.
“One of the reasons we focused on iPhone first was the stability of the platform and being able to get the level of response that we want out of the games,” said Miyamoto. “And that’s not to say that Android devices don’t have the same level of responsiveness. But because there are so many Android devices, trying to engineer the game to work across them all requires quite a lot of time.”
Miyamoto’s comment brings up a thorn in Google’s side.
For years, Google has been hearing gripes about Android’s so-called “fragmentation.” The term refers to the relatively large number of Android users worldwide who are still running outdated versions of its operating system.
According to Google’s (GOOGL) data, which was updated on September 5, just 18.7% of its Android users were running last year’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow version. Approximately a third of all Android users worldwide were running the Lollipop version Google launched in 2014, and approximately 15% were running Jelly Bean, which initially launched in 2012.
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Apple (AAPL), meanwhile, has done a much better job of getting its iPhone and iPad users to run its latest operating systems and within several months, typically gets more than 90% of its users onto its latest launch. Already, Apple’s iOS 10, which launched earlier this month, is running on approximately one quarter of all iOS devices, according to market analysts.
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Fragmentation can be a problem for developers. Because so many users are still running older versions of Google’s operating system, developers have no choice but to support them. That means ensuring compatibility with operating systems that are often times several years old and might not be as stable as newer releases that come with updates and security fixes unearthed in earlier versions.
Android’s fragmentation isn’t necessarily Google’s fault. The company only makes software and offers its mobile operating system to hardware makers. Whenever an update or new version is released, Google can only make that available to hardware makers. Those manufacturers will then need to release the update to their devices and get wireless carriers to push it out over the air to their products. Apple, on the other hand, only needs to worry about the products it has built and automatically ships new devices with its latest operating systems. Apple, unlike Google, controls all aspects of the update process.
Still, Android has well over billion users, which makes it too big for developers to ignore. And Nintendo has no desire to ignore Android. According to Miyamoto, it’s simply going to take more work until the game comes to Android.
Super Mario Run is expected to reach Apple’s App Store in December.