Android distribution numbers updated for Dec: Gingerbread can’t be stopped, Jelly Bean hits 6.7%


It’s that time again folks. Google has just updated their Android distribution numbers over on the Android Developers website and now we can see just how well things are going when it comes to the Android’s “F word” (fragmentation). While today’s numbers might sound bleak for some of you out there, things are definitely picking up steam for Jelly Bean. Here’s where we’re at when it comes to the percentage of devices currently available and the Android versions they’re running:

December 2012

  • Jelly Bean: 6.7%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich 27.5%
  • Gingerbread: 50.8%

November 2012

  • Jelly Bean: 2.7%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: 25.8%
  • 54.2%

December 2011

  • Gingerbread: 50.6%
  • Froyo: 35.3%
  • Eclair: 9.6%

Okay, so let’s face it. Until Google does something crazy, it doesn’t look like Gingerbread is going away anytime soon (not until the hardware it’s running on goes out). In fact, if you compare this year’s Gingerbread numbers with December of 2011’s (50.6%), it looks like Gingerbread hasn’t really dropped much at all. What does this tell you? For one, more device are still launching everyday with the now ancient firmware, and secondly, a good amount of devices with Gingerbread aren’t making the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich.

As we all know, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was the “rebirth” of Android. Matias Duarte and team did an amazing job at finally unifying the OS across phones and tablets, while making Android look as good as it felt. While this sounds great for those with devices running Android 4.0, this most certainly didn’t help with fragmentation (ie: Android’s reputation). ICS was such a huge upgrade that, in a way, Google made it extremely difficult for aging hardware to make the jump. Taking a look back at Dec. 2011, Froyo accounted for over 40% of the Android distribution pie, whereas today, it’s almost completely fallen off the map at a measly 10%.

So, here’s my question: Do you think it’s Google’s responsibility to get that Gingerbread number down, and ICS/Jelly Bean up? If so, what do you think can be done to finally kill off the formidable Gingerdead Man? Maybe Google should come up with an “ICS Lite” with a few of Android 4.0’s more intensive apps removed? Or does Gingerbread conquering the Android pie not even matter in the grand scheme of things?


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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    1. More versions of Android will just cause more headaches for developers and more fragmentation.

      1. Not when it’s ICS framework, the same API’s, just with less cream on top of the Ice.

  2. I think Google should block the release of any phone that is running anything less than ICS

    1. Okay, Google can’t block the release of a phone with an older firmware. They can however, prevent it from accessing their Play Store or something along those lines…

      1. But how is that fair to do that? What is the purpose of blocking the phones from tthe play store….

        1. Not saying it’s fair, or even that Google SHOULD do that (I don’t even think they should), just that blocking Play Store and Google apps usage is the only action Google could take. That is, if they wanted to take action.

          But Android is open. People can take any version and put it on any phone they please, skin it however they like, and choose to update it later or not.

          1. When people stop buying GB phones, they’ll stop making them. That said, most smartphone buyers aren’t as savvy as phandroid readers, and will likely continue to buy whatever is cheap.

            Google should set a cutoff date… devices released after some date (perhaps end of Q1 2013) won’t be allowed to include the Play Store or Gapps if they aren’t shipping with ICS or higher.

        2. It’s not fair, but it’s the only action Google can’t take as those services aren’t free, but Android is, so we can’t stop anyone from putting even Eclair or Froyo on a device and selling it. :|

        3. The purpose would be to indirectly but actively discourse OEMs from releasing new phones running 2.3 or below.

          Remember, ICS wasn’t just an update it was a remake. 4.0+ is what Android is today, anything else is doing it a disservice.

      2. Was about to say something similar when I read this comment. I agree.

      3. Google could definitely do exactly this. It’s through the Open Handset Alliance that they control who can release Androids with Google Apps. They could simply say, as of a certain date Google will no longer allow Google Apps to launch on any new device with Gingerbread or lower. But it would not be fair to also block phones that have come out already.

  3. Carriers like straight talk sell all gingerbread phones. Not one is ICS. Google needs to stop this

    1. Same with Net 10. There is a demand out there for very inexpensive smartphones on these pre-paid carriers. The hardware for Gingerbread is FAR less expensive to produce than ICS / JB. For those who are already on the poorer end of the spectrum (i.e. those going to Straight Talk and Net 10) they are not going to shell out $500+ for a full priced JB phone when they can get a GB phone for $99 or less.

  4. give it another year or 2. the technological ceiling is rising rapidly and so will the floor.

  5. The only way Gingerbread numbers will change in any meaningful way is when users do a HW upgrade which will happen when their contracts make them eligible mid 2013.

    1. I Completely agreed. Pretty much most (if not all) phones on gingerbread don’t have the hardware to run ICS (or so they say).

  6. The thumbnail for this acticle will commence in haunting my dreams…

    1. So true. Scared the hell outta me. And I was about to go to sleep.

      1. @supremekizzle:disqus @Unorthodox:disqus

        Don’t forget to check under your bed…….

        Wouldn’t want the Gingerdead Man coming for you and reverting your phone back to Android 2.3. O_O

        1. lol!I had a xperia play before but i sold it but the weird thing is that sometimes in my dream i dream that i’m using the xperia play!Is it haunting me?scary……

  7. Google can’t stop it! Its free software. Google can threaten to prevent gapps from being installed. But that’s about it

  8. The Droid 3, at a bit over a year old, is stuck with Gingerbread forever. And Motorola is owned by Google, so apparently they don’t mind.

  9. CyanogenMod 10 (Jelly Bean) is available for many of these old phone models. With the carrier bloat stripped away down to a near-stock experience, it runs reliably and smooth. I have only experience with running it on Galaxy S 1 hardware, but it made the phone completely modern and functional again. I wasn’t ready to let it go, until I switched carriers.

  10. Don’t forget about all the low-end devices being sold in the developing world. Folks just don’t have the money in those countries for higher-end devices (most are sold unsubsidized). Until the likes MediaTek, Sharp, etc. bring the costs of things like processors, chipsets, WVGA displays, batteries, etc. even lower to justify the leap to ICS…we can expect Gingerbread to live on.

  11. Next years problem too many devices on ICS nobody making the switch to Jelly Bean the year after.. too many Jelly Bean devices not enough switching to key lime pie and Lollipop Android

  12. Gingerbread and ice cream sandwich phones are so affordable anymore and even cheaper for the holidays this isn’t surprising at all to me. And already %.8 4.2 that’s what’s surprising that os has been out about a month or so and already sold half as much as 4.1 phones Go Android

    1. How about if someone really cares what software they are running, they’ll be picky about what phone they choose.

      1. That’s just it: most consumers DON’T care what software their phone is running. They just want it to run Android and work. They have no idea what version of Android it is running. Why do you think Samsung has maintained the same UI look from their GB phones in the ICS & JB versions of Touchwiz?

  13. 66.8% of people need to upgrade their phones/tabs.

  14. What I don’t get is, *why* put a two-year-old ROM on a brand new phone? What purpose does it serve? I realize they’re low-end phones, but these phones didn’t take two years to develop — ICS at least must have existed when they started work on them. Why make a phone with a ROM that’s already obsolete when you start development on it, and doubly obsolete by the time you launch it?

    1. Good question. Simple two-part answer:

      1) cost – it’s cheaper to develop a GB phone. All of the development has been done in reality…now it’s all about making the same devices for even less money. Some of these phones can now be made for as little as $100.

      2) GB may be superseded…but it works. As the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Some of these companies just don’t want to spend the money to develop for something new, and if they still have people buying their products can you blame them?

  15. They need to make sure Jelly Bean and Key Lime Pie… as well as all future OS’s… are forward compatible. Then the problem will fix itself.

    1. The problem is not one to fix itself considering manufacturers and carriers are the source of the problems. Google went on record to say all of their OS’s have no minimum requirements. However, with that being said some hardware specifically on the mid range to low end devices especially ones with carrier bloatware and manufacturer customization the space for updates to the OS are very small Googles nexus 4 sets aside 4gbs of internal memory for the OS and app caches etc Mid range and Low Level devices are unlikely to receive updates because the manufacturer can’t justify the cost, because the specs are too low and its overall not worth the hassle to them. All Android OS’s are Compatible through upgrades its just the UIs and internals of the phone and the want of the manufacturers and carriers to provide us with the updates is the problem. Buy cheap no update for you.

  16. Android is open, so Google can’t stop people from making more Gingerbread devices (nor should they). However I think Google should maintain a “wall” whereby they announce that after a new OS is released, new devices with the old OS can only get approved for Google Services and Google Play for ~6 months, after which point manufacturers will have to target the newest experience in order to get into the Google ecosystem. There’s no good reason at all for Google to allow new devices to be developed targeting 2.3 and having access to the Google ecosystem. I’m not saying they should mandate that every manufacturer stay on the cutting edge of AOSP, but they should at least take these things into consideration before approving new devices.

    1. Google would never do this, as it would cut them off at the knees. Where is most software development taking place now? Hint: it’s not the US, Japan, or Europe. It’s places like China & India, and many of those potential consumers don’t have the money to spend on high-end devices like over here. Why would Google then block Google services for new phones over there just because they won’t have the latest & greatest version of the OS? That would be the same as ceding market share to Symbian & Bada, and Google is not about to do that. Those are examples of what is really driving Android growth, not the US. Notice that Apple can hardly get a foothold in either country.

  17. I think they only thing to do now is wait til gingerbread dies slowly.
    It would have been ideal if they hadn’t made so many improvements in ics (right away) delayed some of the improvements and make 4.0.5, 4.0.7 etc
    Bit the idea of making an ics lite is not possible. I doubt they want to go back and work on an older os

  18. LOL what i don’t get is why everyone is so bothered by this.

  19. When did this site start moderating posts ? or is it certain words that get flagged like sh!t ?

    1. Apparently certain words

  20. Android is developing to fast. jelly bean just came out and there is already rumors on the next version.

    1. There are always rumours on the next version.

  21. Correct me if im wrong, but gingerbread is about to be 2 years old. And when people buy phones from carriers the contracts are 2 years. Therefore once their contracts are up those people with gingerbread will either leave or stay with android. If they stay their new phone will be ICS+.

    So from all this I think sometime next year we will start seeing gingerbread decline, and pretty fast too.

    Just my 2 cents.

  22. That gingerbread man just runs too damn fast

  23. I wonder whether the release of CM10 is at all visible in the November jump, or if it’s just due to newly released phones. I realize that the number is counted based on Google Play data, so the CM10 phones count… my question is more about how many people are actually using CM10 vs phones that shipped with Jellybean.

  24. Goog’s fault. They need to stiff arm carriers and phone devs to support phones past 3 months of release.

  25. Gingerbread has one thing that any other newer Android OS doesn’t and that is Adobe Flash. Why should Google care about the latest and greatest? It’s all about consumer choice

  26. I have a droid 4 running gingerbread, ics is available. I’d love to upgrade, but I constantly use flash. find me a way to install adobe flash on an ics droid 4 and youll kill one more gingerbread man and make him into an ice cream sanwich

      1. I tried a couple of times to install flash apks, they always install just fine, but when you tried to actually view flash content on a website you got nothing, or missing plugins. I was using demo units w/ics in verizon stores to test it. Now they don’t have droid 4 on display anymore so I’m not sure how I’d test it. But if you can find me an .apk that works on a phone it wasn’t designed for (droid 4 ics updated came 2 days after adobe stopped supporting flash), Then I can finally stop pushing later to my ics upgrade.

        1. Its out there trust me. there are so many versions of flash apks 1 of them has to work.

          1. link? proof? example of a phone that didn’t have support for flash and an apk fixed that?

          2. My HTC Sensation the upgrade to ICS knocked out my flash ability but return as soon as I found an apk. XDA-developers forum will have them most likely… Just look for the droid 4 and Im sure you aren’t the only one with the flash question here with that phone. Since I don’t have your device I can’t readily tell you which one will work but just search for Flash player 11 droid 4 xda and something should pop up

  27. GOOGLE – we will not have fragmented OS moving forward
    me – BS Google…

    FIX This so we can all have better experinces… you know like removing Flash, and making sure my email doesnt work after Icecream sandwitch…


  28. The idea of ics literally could work. A few new enhancements but not all of them. Probably call it Android 3.9.

  29. Ics lite*

  30. Another angle is that a large chunk of that 50 odd percent is down to contract length. A lot of contracts are 2 years and it just so happens that Gingerbread is around 2 years old now. I can see there being a fairly dramatic drop soon in Gingerbread because of a lot of people upgrading.

  31. This really isn’t a problem at all. From the change from last year to this year, and even a quarter ago JB is making huge gains. Granted that’s in the high end line which shows that in the high profit or high price phones, android equipped phones are gaining market share… great for manufacturers. As for Google? They get the best of both worlds. They have a great cutting edge OS that rivals (TRUMPS) iOS, and they get all the masses at the low end too. They don’t care because Android is free and released as an engine to make Google money off their ads and services. If a dumbo phone has full fledged Google search and other services, but nothing else, they would be happy with that too. They don’t have the same profit or business model as apple, so it’s not like they are making money directly off hardware sales. Hence why they are flooding the market with the Nexus line at ridiculously low prices. They just want to make Android’s share larger, as well as get developers to make ever more competitive or comparable apps to sell on the Play Store. If JB or ICS weren’t gaining any share, that would be more alarming as it would signal that all the money they paid Duarte and his team would have been for naught.

    1. If you really think of it, it’s like how a car company works. You have to have competitive models in certain segments. You might make huge profits off big trucks, but you have to have good stuff in the very low margin small/starter car range so people that develop loyalty from your lower priced segments will grow into higher profit models as their income/family/needs change. Google is building a whole ecosystem here, not just a one size product for everyone.

  32. Android is free software. Why the hell are you people wasting your time contemplating how best to screw companies and customers over who don’t want to go to ICS? Leave them be. They’ll upgrade when it makes sense for their bottom line and for their customers.

    I read this comment below: “I think Google should block the release of any phone that is running anything less than ICS”. Oh yeah, really nice there.

    Why do you care? Because you want the most recent Android OS to have a higher percent in that pie chart up there? Please. Gingerbread isn’t competing with later versions, or even iOS or Windows Phones. It’s competing with Black Berry and Symbian. It’s competing with feature phones that are still stuck in the dark ages. Gingerbread is killing Nokia and Blackberry, for f’s sake. Why the hell would Google stop that? WHY?

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