With Google now seeing some 1.3 million new Android device activations every day, there's no shortage of hardware out there running the mobile operating system, but it seems that the bulk of these devices are running older versions of the operating system.
Data based on devices accessing the Google Play store over a 14-day period up to October 1 shows that Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" is installed on 1.8 percent of devices accessing the application store.
The problems facing Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" are two-fold. First, "Jelly Bean" has so far only been made available on a limited number of devices, such as the Nexus 7 tablet and Galaxy Nexus smartphone -- neither of which seem to be mass-market devices. Most of the major OEMs are still pushing out hardware running older versions. Even new smartphones such as Motorola's DROID RAZR M still ship with Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich".
To make matters worse, hardware OEMs and carriers have been dragging their heels when it comes to making "Jelly Bean" available as an update for existing hardware. Both would rather consumers just bought a new smartphone or tablet than give them a new operating system for their old hardware for nothing. There's just no incentive for any of the players -- even Google -- to push updates to older hardware.
The slow adoption of new versions of Android affects everyone in the ecosystem. It forces developers to support an ever-increasing array of aging versions, while at the same time preventing them from making full use of new features. For consumers, it means that they are denied new features and not getting security updates that help keep their handsets and tablets safe from hackers and malware.
As the chart above shows, Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" is the fastest-growing platform, now running almost a quarter of the hardware accessing Google Play.
By far the most popular version of Android continues to be the now aged Android 2.3 "Gingerbread". This is Google's mobile version of Windows XP, an old version of a platform that both hardware makers and consumers are clinging onto for dear life. It was the platform that was around when Android went mainstream, and as such there are a lot of devices out there running it. You can still find handsets for sale that still "Gingerbread," even though the platform hasn't seen an update since September 2011.
Image source: Google Developer Dashboard.