Android's Fragmentation Issue Still Looks Terrible In Many Key Emerging Markets

Android has long been dealing with a fragmentation problem — too many phones running outdated versions of the platform.

On the whole, Android has recently turned the corner in that regard.

But looking at individual countries — with particular attention to the developing world, where Android dominates market share — the root of the fragmentation problem is exposed.

Among Android users in eleven key emerging markets, an average of just 33% of users were updated to Android’s latest version, Jelly Bean, according to July data from Handset Detection.

The global average for Jelly Bean in the same month was about 38%, which means that emerging markets collectively are behind the curve and weighing on overall progress in combating fragmentation.

The problem is much worse in individual emerging markets:

  • In China, only 31% of users were on Jelly Bean, and only 28% in Brazil
  • Over half of users in Argentina were on the three-year-old Gingerbread, with only 16% running Jelly Bean
  • Only 19% of users in Pakistan ran Jelly Bean
  • A combined 66% of users in Vietnam were running either the outdated Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread

Only the Philippines and South Africa seemed to be ahead of the global curve. About 52% and 47% of users in each country, respectively, were running the up-to-date Jelly Bean.

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Fragmentation is a pain for both developers and consumers. Developers are forced to maintain multiple versions of their apps or leave some users locked out of their software.

Apple’s iOS platform, Android’s only formidable platform competitor, is making a significant push to expand its presence in up-and-coming mobile economies.

Apple has never had a fragmentation problem. Less than two weeks after the release of the latest iOS 7, 56% of iOS devices are already up to date.

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