Mobile Device Fragmentation: How Can It Affect Your Business?

Mobile Device Fragmentation: How Can It Affect Your Business?

Everybody’s mobile devices are different, and that applies to both personal devices and business devices. Depending on a user’s tastes and requirements, they’ll want a unique mobile experience to help make using their device more comfortable. However, for businesses that operate mobility solutions and rely on mobile devices to perform mission-critical tasks, this can become a problem. User preference might lead to mobile device fragmentation, which can be a big issue for organizations.

Mobile device fragmentation refers to when users are running different mobile operating systems (or different versions of an OS) and using different mobile hardware models. While this seems fairly innocuous, it has the potential to mess up your entire mobile device infrastructure. How do you deal with mobile device fragmentation while accounting for the various device models and operating systems in your infrastructure? Below, we’ll explore how mobile device fragmentation can affect your business and how you can avoid the risks that come with it.

What exactly is mobile device fragmentation?

While mobile device fragmentation technically covers a wide variety of factors, it generally refers to mobile users running different versions of an operating system. For example, you could have multiple workers in your enterprise using an Android-powered device, but some might not have updated their device to download the latest version of Android. This tends to happen with operating systems that allow the user to decide when (or if) to update their OS; some users prefer not to perform the update just to avoid the time lost downloading and applying the new version.

How can mobile device fragmentation affect your business?

Even if the differences between mobile devices and operating system versions are minor, not having consistency among your enterprise’s devices can have a handful of effects on your company. Some effects are worse than others, but your IT team needs to know about them so they can prepare accordingly. The effects of device fragmentation include:

OS version-specific errors and bugs

When you use any device, errors and bugs are bound to happen. Updating your device to a newer version is one way to fix these bugs, since OS developers are able to patch out any problems that occur. Some of these bugs might not be a big issue, but others can introduce major performance or security problems that could severely affect your network.

Compatibility issues

If you rely on a specific business application to perform important tasks, you need to make sure that every device in your infrastructure supports it. A device that isn’t compatible with a mission-critical app isn’t any use to your enterprise; however, OS updates can break these applications or otherwise make them unusable. For every update that your company rolls out, you need to test every app your business uses to ensure that it’s still working.

Is fragmentation necessarily a bad thing?

In some instances, mobile device fragmentation is not disadvantageous to enterprises. As long as a mobile OS and device supports your business-critical applications without any version-specific issues, fragmentation won’t harm your business. If your company operates a BYOD policy, for example, it should be open to any device hardware and OS that is business-ready. So long as your IT team evaluates each manufacturer and OS/update, mobile device fragmentation won’t pose a problem for your enterprise.


If you want to learn more about the benefits of enterprise mobility management, you should check out our free 2019 MDM Buyer’s Guide. We profile the top vendors in the mobile device management field, their key capabilities, and our Bottom Line for each.

Daniel Hein

Dan is a tech writer who writes about Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Network Monitoring for Solutions Review. He graduated from Fitchburg State University with a Bachelor's in Professional Writing. You can reach him at dhein@solutionsreview.com
Daniel Hein