1 August 2013

Many Android users on old versions.


Android users are currently divided between eight different versions of the operating system, with Jelly Bean on the rise, whilst Gingerbread continues its steady, slow decline.


Google Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system, accounting for over 50 percent of the smartphone market.  But with a new version of Android becoming available every six to nine months, the platform is becoming increasingly fragmented.


July 2013 numbers indicate that over a third of Android users (33.1 per cent) are still on the Gingerbread version, which launched in February 2011.   34.0 per cent are on the original version (4.1) of Jelly Bean, launched in July 2012, and 22.5 per cent are on Ice Cream Sandwich, which launched in December 2011.


Interestingly, only 0.1 per cent are on Honeycomb (the version that came between Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich), which launched in July 2011.  This is probably because most people who bought Honeycomb phones were given the option to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich when it launched, whereas many on Gingerbread were not.


That leaves 6.5 percent on the most recent version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2),  2.5 percent on Froyo,  1.2 percent on Eclair and  0.1 per cent on Donut the earliest version still in use, which launched in September 2009. (Note for the uninitiated Codenames for Android releases are in alphabetical order!).


But fragmentation has its benefits, according to a new report by OpenSignal.  Commenting on the recent findings, OpenSignal said that fragmentation is both a strength and weakness of the Android ecosystem.  While it poses a headache to developers who have to test and optimise on an ever-increasing number of devices, the success of the Android ecosystem cannot be separated from its fragmented nature.


This is because it allows consumers to get exactly the phone they want big or small, cheap or expensive, with any number of different feature combinations.  Fragmentation is also responsible for a broader, more geographically dispersed Android market, according to the report.  "Cheaper devices will struggle to run the most recent versions of Android and the fragmented operating system serves as an enabler of an ecosystem that is becoming more globally, and socio-economically, inclusive", the company said in its report.


"Apple are currently working on a lower-end device, increasing the fragmentation of their ecosystem in the process, suggesting that the Android ecosystem is not only doing something right, but doing something to be imitated.


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