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Android 4.x device numbers finally edge past Gingerbread

by Mark Tyson on 7 March 2013, 13:14

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

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The number of devices running Android 4.0 or higher has finally eclipsed those running the popular Gingerbread variety of the mobile OS. The first release of Android 4.x, called Ice Cream Sandwich, was released in October 2011. Even though the popular Android 2.3 Gingerbread has been overtaken, looking at the bigger picture there are still fewer than half of Android devices running an OS with a version number higher than 4.

Over the last few months the initial tardy rate of adoption of Android 4 or higher seems to have received a gust of wind to its sails. It’s probably not due to people who couldn’t be bothered upgrading their Android OS suddenly deciding to do so, but purchases and upgrades to new Android devices, especially over the holiday season when people went tablet crazy.

This is a welcome change to the OS landscape as with many mid and lower range Android devices software updates have historically been very few and far between, even if there are big security issues with previous versions. GigaOM reported last October that only one in four Android devices ran versions 4 or higher.

 

Chart showing Android fragmentation

The chart above shows the current state of play (from 4th March). Information Week has also analysed the changes over recent time to see if there are undercurrents in the trends. From their analysis it seems like ICS has already peaked and its share of the pie is decreasing while Jelly Bean is building up nicely. It attributes this to the better upgradeability of ICS devices, many of which have recently received upgrades to one of the new Jelly Bean versions of the OS. Fewer devices are upgradeable from Gingerbread to 4.x.

While Android 4.2.x is now out, most new phones come box-fresh with Android 4.1 installed. Information Week says that “Google is expected to debut Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie at its I/O developer conference in May.” So we will have more versions of Android to contend with soon.

Looking at this OS fragmentation problem GigaOM suggests positively “Google’s issue has largely diminished and it’s really not that different on iOS; it’s just handled differently”. However there are still at lot of budget Android devices being sold sporting Android versions older than ICS, and they will probably never be updated.



HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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despite google making new versions, its rare if ever that a phone supplier will incorporate a new rev into their upgrade program, and less likely still that most people will upgrade. Thus we will be stuck with v2.X versions of android for a number of years now. All this means even with the advent of Android 5 is that the average mobile app dev will need yet more phones to test with.

Being quite honest I am getting a bit hacked off with the mobile phone market and the number of revisions we have to deal with, no matter what the OS. But then we are just pawns in the game of market share.
andykillen
despite google making new versions, its rare if ever that a phone supplier will incorporate a new rev into their upgrade program, and less likely still that most people will upgrade. Thus we will be stuck with v2.X versions of android for a number of years now. All this means even with the advent of Android 5 is that the average mobile app dev will need yet more phones to test with.

Being quite honest I am getting a bit hacked off with the mobile phone market and the number of revisions we have to deal with, no matter what the OS. But then we are just pawns in the game of market share.
Not sure I agree with the first statement - I would suspect that a lot of the Gingerbread traffic are folks who are now reaching the end of their contract, so are available for an upgrade. Anyone launching a G'bread phone these days is really going to be at a disadvantage.

Going to agree on the proliferation of issues - this wouldn't be an issue in itself if manufacturers “got with the program” and allowed handsets to be upgraded to a “modern” version. And it's not just Android - there were questions this week whether WinPhone8 folks will be able to get an upgrade to Windows “Blue” when it comes out.

Back to the article, I'm very glad that we're finally starting to see Froyo and G'bread in the minority, since ICS is the first version of Android that, I will argue, is at least a match for iOS.
crossy
I would suspect that a lot of the Gingerbread traffic are folks who are now reaching the end of their contract, so are available for an upgrade.
This is what everyone has been telling for a long time, yet there were 2.3 devices launching till July 2012 which means they were (or still are) on the market as commodity phones that come for free with a contract. This basically means we have at least 1-1.5 more years of slowly fading Gingerbread instead of the ideal world everyone wants.
Have to wonder how much of that gingerbread share is LG owners who are still being stuck over for a 4.0 update. Got a software update a week or so ago and got all excited thinking it might be the fabled 4.0 update, but I can't actually tell any difference between the new build and the previous one… *sigh*
Yup - my g/f got a Galaxy Ace 2 a few months back, and I was pretty surprised it came with Gingerbread. However, Samsung do claim they will be providing an upgrade to 4.x in April… but as to whether that'll really happen, I don't know.