Android Is Solving Its Fragmentation Problem

Android is turning the corner on fragmentation.

Of all Android devices globally, 45% are now using Jelly Bean, the latest major update to Android (versions 4.1 and above). Only 31% are on Gingerbread (Android 2.3 versions). This is a big improvement over previous platform distribution numbers:

  • Three months ago, when we last covered the Android landscape, 33% of Android devices used Jelly Bean.
  • Last September, only 1% of Android devices were running Jelly Bean. And 59% were still running Gingerbread.

Superseded versions of Android are fading from prominence. Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread are still found on about half of Android devices, but they’re losing share and ancient versions like Froyo, Eclair and Doughnut are disappearing from view. These trends spell relief for developers who complained about having to support outdated Android versions.

(The expectation is that Android’s newest version, Kit Kat, will be released in mid-October.)

Wireless operators and device makers are notoriously bad at helping Google execute its updates.

For that reason, Google is no longer relying only on Android updates to channel major software improvements. It has also begun rolling out updates to Android in a piecemeal fashion through the various applications and services it controls, particularly the Google Play Services app pre-loaded on Android phones.

In reality, Google Play Services is much more than an app. It has broad permissions and effectively acts as a kind of quasi-operating system, allowing Google to introduce improvements without having to wrangle carriers and manufacturers.

Google Play Services is compatible with nearly all Android versions still in circulation.

Download the chart and data in Excel.

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