I've wondered about this for sometime, and I'd love a good discussion on it. Now I know there are certain issues that will vary by market, such as;
1) necessary LTE frequencies
2) default language
3) government certifications
4) regional hardware customs, like dual SIMs
5) distribution channels
But I can't help but wonder if the falling cost of hardware, storage, and globalization of distribution channels (Amazon), has made a lot of these issues easier to address without creating a boatload of different regional and carrier variants. Just include features and frequencies that may not be absolutely necessary in every market. It's probably cheaper than creating so many different versions. I look at the wonderful array of Nokia models available globally, and then just get frustrated with how only a couple of the lower line models have the North American frequencies. Why can't we make more true "world phones"? To me, it sure seems like that is the way of future.
When you say fragmented do you just mean there are lots of variants of the same phone? Or that there are lots phone manufacturers in general? Or that some manufacturers have different phones for different markets?
On the point of frequencies, some frequencies cannot be used in some countries so it's not legal to sell a phone which uses them. This is why phones have to be certified, tested by organisations like the FCC in the USA to confirm that the phones comply with the regulations for transmitting radio frequencies in that country/market. I'm sure that most variants of the Nokia 6, for example, have identical hardware, but the modem software is different so they need to have different TA model numbers.
Madbilly, by fragmented, I meant lots of different variants, but only certain variants only available in certain markets. For example a 64g 6.1 for India, but only 32g 6.1 for the USA. It just seems that minimizing the number of variants, where practical, means you can deliver greater value for the money.
I'd be curious to know what the minimum number of versions of a specific phone would be necessary in order to serve the world's frequencies, while still avoiding having frequencies available in markets where they might not be legal. If the difference in the modem is firmware, could this not be potentially handled by a setting?
Yes, you're right, this is frustrating. I can only assume it's because the local resellers don't want the additional costs (whatever they may be) of having an SKU which they won't sell many of, presumably because the price for that SKU won't be attractive in their market.
But HMD do seem to produce many more variants than I think is necessary, e.g. Nokia 6, as you said. But then some phones have only one variant like the 8 Sirocco.