Android's Fragmentation Problem Is Moving In The Right Direction

Software fragmentation is a lingering problem on Android: Google can’t get users to update to the software’s latest iteration, creating a headache for developers who have to keep their app working across different versions.

It also means that developers can’t push out the latest and greatest Android features to a substantial set of users.

From the consumer side of things, some apps are no longer supported on older versions of Android, effectively locking them out. 

But according to data from Android’s developer blog, things are moving in the right direction.

As of June 3, Gingerbread, released in late-2010, was installed for 37 per cent of users, down from 48 per cent in January. The most recent updates, Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich, released in late 2011 and mid-2012, respectively, combined for a 59 per cent user share.    

Compare this to Apple. According to Distimo, iOS 6 now generates 93% of iPhone traffic, indicating that substantially all iPhone users have updated to the latest version of iOS. 

Partly as a response to its update problem, Google has begun to push out updates in a piecemeal fashion — through the various applications and services it controls — instead of rolling out a whole new Android version.

Wireless carriers and device manufacturers are notoriously bad at helping Google execute its updates to Android, and so by channeling improvements though its own services Google can at least sidestep that hassle.

Click here for data and chart in Excel.

Click here for a larger version of this chart. 

android june 2013

For comparison, back in January Gingerbread accounted for 48 per cent of users and the combined share of Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich was only 39 per cent (20 percentage points less than now).

Click here for a larger version of this chart.

android january 2013

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