Jelly Bean sees modest climb, the rest see small decline in latest Android platform numbers

The latest platform distribution numbers for Android have been posted to Google’s developer site, and the results are favorable (yet, at the same time, things seem a bit stagnant). For starters, Gingerbread is nowhere near being dead as it still holds a commanding 45.6% of the pie. There are a ton of Gingerbread devices out there, so they’re either not being upgraded on the software side or people aren’t willing to upgrade on the hardware side yet.

The good news is that Jelly Bean saw a a slight increase to 13.6%, though a vast majority of that share went to Android 4.1 instead of 4.2 at 12.2% and 1.4%, respectively. Ice Cream Sandwich took an extremely small .1% dip to 29%, though that can be explained by more Ice Cream Sandwich devices being upgraded to Jelly Bean than Ice Cream Sandwich devices being sold. Most new devices will come with at least Android 4.1 this year so we imagine the trend will continue, and will ramp up in speed.

Fragmentation is an issue that Google is still hoping to get under control one day, but it doesn’t seem like the problem is as easy to solve as an algebraic equation. With the likes of Froyo and Eclair still showing decent life, and Gingerbread flat-out refusing to die well past its prime, you have to expect that we’ll never truly get everyone caught up. The most we can hope for is that, at the very least, more and more people get on Ice Cream Sandwich so that more focus can go toward creating great Holo UI apps.

Ice Cream Sandwich never quite reached the same plateaus Gingerbread did, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most people won’t upgrade their smartphones until they have an upgrade ready and the right combination of phone/price is presented to them, and it just so happens that the upgrade period for most people who originally bought Gingerbread phones will come up this year.

Once more people get the opportunity to step up to the latest and greatest hardware at a fraction of the cost we should see them snapping up phones with Jelly Bean in droves, though Key-Lime Pie, or whatever the next version of Android will be called, would likely begin to take center stage.

We enjoy the frequency in which Google upgrades its software, but because Android is open to OEM customization we have to deal with these unfortunate gaps. It’s a vicious and unforgiving cycle, folks, and while the pill may be tough to swallow it’s just something we’ll have to contend with if we want to continue to get upgrades every 6 months compared to the annual cycles most other companies are on.

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  • camelsnot

    make OEMs more accountable, or provide them subsidies like what’s happening in the failing film industry.

    • scoter man1

      I feel like part of the problem is also the people (hate to say it, but elderly or computer incompetent) that have a phone just because it’s a phone. Sure there are some that are actually stuck on 2.x because the manufacturer wont upgrade it, but I’ve witnessed so many people with crap phones running froyo. I just laugh to myself when I see that.

  • bob

    I think we will see a HUGE drop in anything 2.** this year as those devices are replaced under contract renewals. As a result we will also see a huge shift to 4.**.

    • BoSamps

      I agree. I went to the Verizon store the other day and nothing was below ICS

      • Adnoxaei

        They still sell four Android 2.3 phones on their website. One of them reaches its end of life this month, but the others will still be clinging to life as free phones. I’m glad that they don’t seem to be on display in stores at least.

    • shonangreg

      I have an old Casio G’zOne that I bought for $100 on yahoo auctions in Japan. It is waterproof and holds a 32GB micro-SD card. I use it while hiking and biking as a GPS tracker and as a bluetooth audio player. I doubt it will ever be upgraded past gingerbread as it has a really weird bootloader-analogue. However, I’d guess even two or three years from now I’ll still be using it. When Nexus 4 equivalents come waterproofed (crosses fingers) and with expandable memory (google pig-headedly continues to fight this), then my media player/GPS tacker is always going to be 1 to 5 years out of date.

      Maybe the modularity of the X-phone will fix this problem, but that is a whole different conversation.

  • barbershopGeek904

    some people don’t know and don’t care so what’s the big problem….ijs

    • bob

      The problem is app development… This effects the quality of everyone’s experience because apps have to be developed to work universally.

      • Pkmmte

        Exactly.

        There’s so many great things you can develop using newer APIs but so many developers have to support at least down to 2.2 for a bigger user base.

        Sure, you could back port functions but that’ll make the app size bigger. Some (including me) enable such special features only for 4.0 and above but that destroys consistency. Lastly, devs may also just downgrade their app altogether and keep it without new features just to make most people happy.

        That’s probably the only thing I envy about iOS: devs don’t have to give up features just to keep a big user base.

        • Andreas Korat

          Dude, target only Android 4.X + devices and you still have a bigger user base than any iOS developer has.
          And by the way, people who are not interested in getting at least an Android 4.x smartphone are probably not going to install a lot of sophisticated applications, anyways… (of course, the are exceptions, especially people who still have the original Samsung galaxy s and HTC desire smartphones i’d guess)

          Just think economical. Do you want to give 40% of the android user base an outstanding user experience or do you want to give 100% of the android user base an “above-average” user experience ;)

  • Michael Allred

    One thing I think gets ignored here is that as far as I know the only device running 4.2 are Nexus devices. So Nexus devices now have a 1.4% market share of Android devices. This may be the most interesting item on these charts.

    • Dwayne Smith

      Nexus devices and phones with custom ROMs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jkennelly James Kennelly

      Or CM 10.1, when its put that way, its a very small piece of the pie.

    • Matthew Pellerito

      Unless you’re on Verizon and still running 4.1 on your Nexus.

  • Stephen

    Custom roms and upgrades. Ditched GB for a JB device myself.

  • Brian

    {T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon} all still sell Gingerbread phones. VirginMobileUSA still sells Froyo phones!! This IS NOT going away any time soon. There’s no shame in someone getting the best free phone they can get when their contract is up. Mocking people is akin to insulting someone because they shop at Target and their winter fleece/jacket isn’t a NorthFace. If EVERYONE is to be able to get a smartphone (just like a car), there will always be this distribution, especially when you figure in the used market.

    In the past on Verizon it used to be very easy to get their best phone for free when you combined your New-Every-Two discount (now discontinued) with your 2-yr contract upgrade. Sadly those days are long gone. The Droid 1 was the first phone I ever spent money on, and it was only $99.

    Granted, I’m ignoring the existence of all the original {PalmOS,Windows Mobile, Blackberry} smartphones, but in my experience *most* people had them as a work phone in addition to their normal personal phone (though my own father breaks my statement). But there is no comparing the ease-of-use of smartphones today with those 8 years ago, hence the >50% market penetration in the usa.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Google’s done a lot to help with fragmentation, in just two words: “support library”. They even went so far as to include the support lib by default recently in all newly created projects (from templates).

  • Jayshmay

    I look forward to my Galaxy S4 being updated to Key Lime Pie, hopefully somewhere around November-ish?

  • DavidVarghese

    ICS will be the new Gingerbread once KLP comes out, in terms of version number distribution… Which is actually not bad

    • zin11

      Ics is more like froyo. Anything that can run ics can run jb, so we’ll see jb on most of those devices…. eventually.

      Either way,

  • Adnoxaei

    I was bored, so I made a list. I went through vzw.com to see what they have available and found this:

    (Android Version #) (Manufacturer) (Device)

    2.3 Casio G’zOne Commando
    2.3 HTC Rhyme
    2.3 *LG Lucid
    2.3 Pantech Breakout

    4.0 HTC DROID INCREDIBLE 4G LTE
    4.0 LG Spectrum 2
    4.0 LG Intuition
    4.0 *Motorola DROID 4
    4.0 Pantech Marauder
    4.0 Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II
    4.0 Samsung Galaxy Stellar

    4.1 HTC Droid DNA
    4.1 Motorola RAZR M
    4.1 Motorola RAZR HD
    4.1 Motorola RAZR MAXX HD
    4.1 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
    4.1 Samsung Galaxy SIII

    *The Lucid and Droid 4 reach End of Life in February

    After those two devices are at EOL that will put Verizon at three 2.3 devices, six 4.0 devices, and six 4.1 devices. The 2.3 devices are getting quite old by tech standards. The G’zOne Commando has been around since mid 2011 while the Breakout and Rhyme are from late 2011. I guess they sell well as free phones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gideon-Waxfarb/100002251671344 Gideon Waxfarb

    By the time we get everybody up to 4.x, I’d imagine that v6 will be out by then.

  • Biancoceleste

    Way too many devices were sold in 2012 with gingerbread on them, that’s why android 2.3 refuses to die.
    Also, not enough late 2010 devices were updated officially to ice cream sandwich.