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Summary:

Google’s Android developers blog shows that the three-year-old Gingerbead software is still running on 20 percent of devices, while the new KitKat update has only reached 1.8.

Gingerbread

Google might be doing the best it can to combat Android fragmentation, but it’s still alive and well according to the latest statistics. The numbers on Google’s Android developers blog paint a grim portrait, in which the three-year-old Android Gingerbread is running on more than ten times as many devices as the new Android KitKat.

Android adoption stats

The data was collected over a 7-day period ending February 4. As you can see, the relatively recent Jelly Bean is running on the majority of Android devices, with a combined total of 60.7 percent. On the other hand, most of those devices are running version 4.1 of the software, which lacks many of the features and enhancements that can be found in later updates.

What’s more distressing is the Android 4.4 KitKat adoption rate. KitKat is currently running on only 1.8 percent of Android devices. That barely edges out the 1.3 percent of devices still running Froyo, an operating systems that debuted in May 2010. And 20 percent of Android devices out there are still running Gingerbread, which was released almost exactly three years ago.

Compare that to the adoption rate of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean when it was first released, and the results are about flat. Jelly Bean made it to 2.7 percent of devices within its first four months. KitKat has now been out for just over three months. Part of me suspects that people buying new devices might be a bigger reason for new software getting out there than old devices being updated.

This isn’t necessarily Google’s fault. Hardware constraints among older devices as well as software overlays from manufacturers means that updates take time, if they even happen at all. HTC made a helpful chart detailing the many steps of the Android update process, and it isn’t simple.

Google made an attempt to combat Android fragmentation with the release of KitKat, as the software was written to run better on older devices. But many manufacturers discontinue support after a certain period of time.

You can buy a Nexus or Google Play Edition device from Google if you want to keep up with the latest software updates. But even that isn’t a sure thing, as Google discontinued support for the two-year-old Galaxy Nexus, which should be capable of running KitKat (my colleague Kevin Tofel managed to get the software running on a Nexus One, which is even older).

This is in stark contrast to Apple. According to the company’s recent earnings call, iOS 7 is now running on 80 percent of all compatible devices, less than five months after it was first released.

  1. No, you’re looking at it wrongly. It’s only fragmented if something won’t/cant’ run and basically anything Froyo+ is running the latest version of of Google Play services. Prior to Google pushing all much of their core APIs into play services you had a point. You don’t know. In fact, Google’s ability to update everyone to the latest APIs through the play services interface is FASTER than Apple. Yes, it’s different than Apple which controls its entire silo of devices/software but Apple has it’s own, separate fragmentation issues as well, truth be told.

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  2. Why point to 20% GB vs 1.2% KK? Why not compare 20% GB to the massive 60%+ JB? I mean the only people who would really notice a difference between versions of JB and KK are geeks like us and that maybe 1% of Android users.

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  3. I will be running Gingerbread until my old phone device dies. I do not use the cellular radio anymore, but I use wi-fi and local storage to play music. I will also use my Galaxy Tab running Gingerbread until it dies.

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  4. if google really aims faster adoption rate for the kitkat os, they must perform notified updates via googleplay that users’ devices shall be updated to the latest os that their device is capable to run.

    google must have a firm resolve in their statement about kitkat to ensure majority of the android based phones and devices shall be updated in the latest os that the users’devices is capable of running rather than to delegate this task to the carriers and oems that load unnecessary apps that intrude, slow and therefore the “the google experience” is traumatizing.

    apple will remain apple as steve jobs envisioned it. period

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  5. “This is in stark contrast to Apple. According to the company’s recent earnings call, iOS 7 is now running on 80 percent of all compatible devices, less than five months after it was first released.”

    Doesn’t Apple’s numbers mirror how Google measures its data? That is, the percentages are measured off active users who visit the Apple App Store (or Google Play for Android) in a particular time period?

    If so, then assuming older iOS device users still access the App Store at a similar rate to recent users, the 80% number for Apple is closer to a percentage of installed base, not just compatible devices.

    For Google Play, it would be the same thing. However, since there are a significant number of devices in the world that do not connect to Google Play, the percentage numbers could be overstated as a percentage of overall installed base of Android, since we all know that analytical firms that say “80% of the market is Android” are including these other devices. Either that or the 80% number should be segemented into Google vs other, right when speaking of market share.

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  6. Some sensational numbers here which don’t stand up to common sense. While 20% of devices may in fact still be running Gingerbread, those are the 20% of customers least likely to be actively shopping for apps and otherwise making money for developers. The 60% number is pretty significant (moreso if you add in ICS, for which app compatibility isn’t vastly different).

    The 80% Apple number conveniently excludes non-compatible devices. If we want apples-apples comparison, what percentage of iOS devices still in use are running iOS7? Clearly less than 80%, and I’d guess close to the 60% of Android users running Jelly Bean.

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