New data on the state of the Android ecosystem has been posted to Google’s Android Developers site. The big reveal? Gingerbread, the version of the Android mobile operating system released back in December 2010, is still leading with 57.5% of Android OS share. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is at 20.9%, and Android 2.2 (Froyo) has 14%. Yes, Froyo – released in May 2010. And as for the newest version of Android, aka Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)? It’s now installed on 1.2% of Android devices, up from 0.8% a month ago.
Since Google only revealed Jelly Bean in late June, promising rollouts to Nexus handsets and the Motorola Xoom in mid-July, the number of Jelly Bean devices can also help paint a picture of new Android device sales, and perhaps most importantly the early traction the Jelly Bean-based Nexus 7 tablet is seeing. (Maybe that’s why Google opted for the giant Google.com homepage ad?)
Also, despite the new device announcements at Motorola’s press event yesterday, Jelly Bean’s traction doesn’t look to immediately improve. Even though Google completed the acquisition of the handset maker Motorola Mobility earlier this year, Motorola’s new phones (the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD and Droid RAZR M) aren’t shipping with Jelly Bean. This news, of course, comes with a sigh of relief from competing OEMs who feared that Motorola would be given an unfair advantage now that it’s Google-owned in terms of getting the latest OS ahead of the pack. Nope.
Instead, Motorola promised that it would attempt to upgrade both new and existing handsets to Jelly Bean soon. But it also went a step further - promising a $100 credit if it failed to do so after consumers purchased one of its newest Android phones. (More details on that here.)
To be fair, Jelly Bean’s small install base isn’t a great reflection of consumer demand for Android devices. Because Android updates are in the hands of OEMs and carriers, users can’t follow the upgrade path to newer software releases the way that Apple iOS device owners can simply download updates over-the-air or via iTunes. But that also makes things challenging for the Android developer community, which has to deal with different screen sizes, device types, and API versions, in addition to variations in Android OS versions. Plus, we should note that the fallout from Apple’s landmark court win against Samsung has yet to really come into play, either. Will Google begin to workaround the infringement issues by redesigning parts of Android to work differently? And, if so, how will that impact the Android fragmentation problem even further? It’s too soon to tell, but the issue of Android OS fragmentation at least, doesn’t look to be getting any better with the release of Google branded tablets and the Motorola buyout.