Jelly Bean powering close to half of all Android devices, but fragmentation still exists

Jelly Bean powering close to half of all Android devices, but fragmentation still exists

Summary: The data released by Google shows that Jelly Bean power 48.6 percent of all Android devices. But fragmentation remains a big problem, and getting users onto the latest version continues to be an uphill struggle.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Android
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According to stats released by Google, Jelly Bean is powering almost half of all Android devices accessing the Google Play store.

The data, which is based on smartphones and tablets accessing the Google Play store during a 7-day period ending on October 2, 2013, shows that versions 4.1.x, 4.2.x and 4.3 of Jelly Bean power 48.6 percent of all Android devices.

Over the past three months, Jelly Bean's usage share has increased by over 10 percentage points.

As far as versions older than Android 2.2, according to Google as of August 2013 they accounted for about one percent of devices that checked in to Google servers (not those that actually visited Google Play Store). This means that they are now very thin on the ground.

This might be good news for developers as it means they can focus their efforts onto the new operating system releases. However, Jelly Bean's nearest rival is Android 2.3.x Gingerbread, a version first released back in February 2011, and this version continues to power 28.5 percent of the devices accessing the Google Play store.

Another fragmentation issue to bear in mind here is that Google has decided to release three different versions of Jelly Bean, and the lion's share of usage is from 4.1.x (also known as API level 16), a version first released July 2012. This means that there's considerable fragmentation among devices running Jelly Bean, with the majority unable to benefit from features introduced in versions 4.2.x and 4.3.

The problem with getting users up to the latest version is not interest. The speed and ferocity with which iOS users upgrade to the latest version shows that users clearly are interested in new versions of operating systems. The problem is that Google is the beginning of a long system that updates have to go through.

After Google releases a new version of Android, device OEMs have to then customize the release and add their own tweaks. Then, for smartphones and tablets that are hooked to a carrier contract, the carriers have to add their own branding. The problem is made worse by the fact that neither the OEMs of the carriers feel there's much of a benefit in pushing free software updates to customers, and would rather focus on selling a new device. 

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."

Topics: Mobility, Android

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31 comments
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  • Jelly Bean powering close to half of all Android devices, but fragmentation

    This is another reason why companies should not put any effort into developing for android or linux. The fragmentation is just insane. If you build against one version of android it will not work on the others. And this scenerio is linux specific. Other mobile OS's allow you to build and run for multiple versions which reduces development and testing time. Android was not meant to run applications, just to take calls.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Microsoft Windows is Fragmented, should we also write it off and ...

      not develop for it ? Fragmentation for Anrdoid has eased as Product has matured. If the people running 2.x want new features and care, they will 1) buy a newer phone 2) get a ROM that will upgrade their phone. Android is doing well. Many folks using Android are not worried about Fragmentation in the long run.
      jkohut
    • Yes, that explains the huge growth in usage

      So Android usage has grown through the stratosphere, to the point that 75+% of all phones are running it - and this growth happened WHILE the fragmentation "issue" was more severe - and the fragmentation issue is improving (lessening) -- and you conclude that it's doomed.

      This sounds like the same reasoning Elop used to conclude that Nokia's leading share in smartphones (with over 2x the share that Apple had in 2010), addition of smartphone users at a faster pace than Apple throughout 2010, and growth in profitability in 2010 meant that Nokia just MUST abandon their plans and switch to the smartphone OS that had about 1% of marketshare. In other words, you sound foolish.
      daboochmeister
    • Loverock-Davidson is a moron

      I think we can agree on that.
      BCF1968
    • Unfortunately..

      The real issue I see on my end as someone who helps support these phones is the capabilities of a "Premium Phone" versus a "Value Phone".

      The Premium phones mostly will have one of the more recent versions of OS. The MDM's, VPN's, etc that are required for corporate use are targeted by and large to this segment. So to visualize Make a X coordinate that Measures Value to Premium phone. Then make a Y coordinate as to which OS release some is on. The upper right quadrant where the Galaxies, HTC's One's etc all live is where the Full support of applications seems to be.
      Johnpford
  • Fragmentation still exists...

    No.... Ya think. A lot of folks here and elsewhere try to minimize the fragmentation issue, but there is nothing minimal about it. It does exist, it is real and it is prevasive. It is the one major drawback of this technological direction and I see no good solution to resolving it. Eventually it will eat away at Android and really hurt the platform.
    BruinB88
    • that fragmentation was sure a big hinderance for windows PCs, wasn't it

      obviously, I'm being sarcastic. And what about the relative lack of fragmentation on mac computers. Still at 5% marketshare.
      Hardware fragmentation=choice
      glass half empty=glass half full

      Software fragmentation: you have android 2 and android 4=99%. what is the problem? The situation is actually only getting better.
      drwong
      • Sorry, I disagree

        Its obvious you have never developed an app for the Android platform. This model does not and will not work for developers. That's your problem and there is no easy way and in fact no way to solve it because you are open source. In the long term it will die becuase there will always be a percentage (much greater than 1%) that will want to run their own version of the OS. When they do this, there is no way developers can develop fo all these different OS versions without adding mountains of exception code and platform check code that is not maintainable.
        BruinB88
      • Well lets get one number right.

        Apple hasn't been at 5% for quite some time. Most numbers are pinning it at 7 to 8 percent.
        Johnpford
  • Android fragmentation is a drop in the bucket..

    Compared to the fragmentation caused by Microsoft and their bizzarro file formats that change nearly on every patch release.

    Of course, the near nonexistance of WP8 (and 7, and 6,...) variations.. No wonder nobody wants to make them.

    And then there is the fragmentation caused by RT...
    jessepollard
    • What are you talking about?

      Bizarre file formats that change nearly on every patch release?

      Last time I checked, .exe files were still .exe files, and .mp3 files were still .mp3 files.
      ForeverCookie
      • The problem is

        jessepollard doesn't know what he is talking about because he doesn't understand the basics of the environments in which he critisizes. Which in turn is why he is critisizing that environment. The best defense is simply to attempt to take the offensive. The problem? When you don't understand the structures and the technology/architecture used, then you illustrate your ignorance as in this case. Sad but very true.
        BruinB88
        • The problem you have is that you don't have to deal with the failures.

          Everybody else does.
          jessepollard
          • Everybody else?

            Are you talking about Windows users?

            They don't have the problems you're talking about.
            ForeverCookie
      • None of those are Microsoft formats...except for the exe format.

        How about all the different office formats? or the excel formats? or the CIFS formats (that they had to get help from open source to document)? Or the filesystem formats?
        jessepollard
  • How did Google measure it?

    Did they count amazon device, and all those cheap devices in China (they have no access to Google service at all)? Most likely not counting Amazon, but again Google can only access the device that have connected to their servers. So even they claim almost 50%, I think in real world, if we count all the devices is less then 50%.
    Teco222
    • It is by counting visits to the play store over a certain interval

      during the month. So this does not count mostly cheap foreign devices that do not have play store access. But these numbers come from the developer dashboard and so play store users are all that matters to us.
      http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html
      drwong
    • It is interesting how different web usage is.

      With GB still the lion's share of Android handsets followed closely by ICS. JB is about half the web impressions.
      Bruizer
  • It will not matter

    Unification is a futile end game. One year from now, Jelly Bean will look like Honeycomb. I had a power lunch with my rep today, and there are big things on the horizon for Windows Phone 9! Resources inside America's Greatest Software Company have relayed information, at grave risk to their own selves: the leadership turnover is due to the massive shift in excellence that is coming on the WP platform! It will be so good, so far beyond iOS, Android, or anything previously conceived by man...that it has shaken the very pillars of the company. It has made obsolete its own other products. The battle was on to contain the greatness. But those old-guard leaders were not able to hold back this tidal wave. My rep promises I will be the first to know more details. I am eagerly awaiting his next call, and have the staff at Huberto's Crab Shack holding our lunch table every day so I will not be caught unready!
    Techboy_z
    • Now this is funny

      Okay, you made your point. LOL.
      BruinB88