Google Now on iOS highlights Android’s fragmentation problem

My colleague Erica Ogg reports (along with a host of others) that Google Now became available goday as an update to Google Search for iOS. The feature will enable the app to tap user information across Google’s apps and PC services to deliver customized information without requiring a search in the first place. Google Now pushes information such as sports scores, package deliveries and traffic information based on users’ information and settings, providing a push-based alternative to Apple’s voice-driven Siri, which returns results only when queried by the user.

But as Steve Kovach of Business Insider notes, only 25 percent of Android users can access Google Now, because it’s available only on devices running Jelly Bean. As Search Engine Land points out, that means that the iOS market for Google Now is roughly 250 percent bigger than the Android market for Google’s own personalized search offering.

I said goodbye to Android more than a year ago because of fragmentation-induced headaches, but such problems haven’t prevented Google’s OS from becoming the dominant mobile platform worldwide. But Google Now has enjoyed positive reviews since its debut almost a year ago, and it may quickly become very popular among iPhone users. If so, the vast majority of Android users who can’t get Google Now may suddenly find themselves disenchanted with their mobile operating system.