According to stats released by Google, Jelly Bean is now the most-used version of the Android operating system.
The data, which is based on smartphones and tablets accessing the Google Play store, shows that versions 4.1.x and 4.2.x power more than a third of all Android devices, ousting Android 2.3.x Gingerbread, a version first released back in February 2011, from the top spot.
Over the past month, Jelly Bean's usage share — called distribution by Google — has increased by 4.9 percentage points compared to the previous month. Jelly Bean's gains are at the expense of other Android versions, in particular Ice Cream Sandwich, which has seen its distribution fall by 2.3 percentage points, and Gingerbread, which has seen its distribution fall by 2.5 percentage points.
While Jelly Bean is now the most popular version of Android, overall the landscape is a three-way split between the aging Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich releases, and the current Jelly Bean release.
The data also clearly shows how Jelly Bean alone is now the only version of Android that is experiencing growth, which is good news for developers because it means the ecosystem is getting less fragmented as the months progress. However, even if the current trends hold true for the near future, devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread are going to be around for quite some time.
Beginning in April 2013, Google started delivering data collected from each device when the user visited the Google Play Store. Previously, the data was collected when the device simply checked in to Google servers. Google believes that the new data "more accurately reflects those users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem."
But thing are not all rosy for Android. Despite the fact that Jelly Bean now has the lion's share of usage, and despite the fact that Android as a whole is estimated to command almost 70 percent of the smartphone market, the money is slow to appear. As pointed out by AppleInsider, Google pulled in a little over $50 billion throughout 2012, compared to Apple's $54 billion for the last quarter alone.
In other words, Apple is leveraging its 22 percent market share much more effectively than Google is leveraging its almost 70 percent market share.
All of which goes to show, it's not the market share that matters, but what you do with it.