KitKat powering 1.4 percent of Android devices

KitKat powering 1.4 percent of Android devices

Summary: The data released by Google shows that while Jelly Bean now powers over half of all Android devices, KitKat has secured a small foothold. But fragmentation still presents a problem for developers.

TOPICS: Mobility

According to stats published by Google, the newest Android release, codenamed KitKat, is powering over one percent of all Android devices accessing the Google Play store.

The data, which is based on smartphones and tablets accessing the Google Play store over a 7-day period ending on January 8, 2014, shows that Android 4.4 is installed on 1.4 percent of devices.

Android stats
(Source: Google)

Android 4.4 was release on 31 October, 2013, and first made its public appearance on the Nexus 5.

This latest version has a long way to go to catch up with the previous release, codenamed Jelly Bean. This release, which includes versions 4.1.x, 4.2.x and 4.3, power 59.1 percent of Android devices and makes it the single most popular version. However, Android version 4.1.x is the single most popular release, installed on 35.9 percent of devices.

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, 4.3, and now 4.4 as KitKat is rolled out to handsets.

However, Jelly Bean's nearest rival continues to be Android 2.3.x Gingerbread, a version first released back in February 2011, and this version continues to power 21.2 percent of the devices accessing the Google Play store. However, the good news is that this version's dominance is eroding slowly as the months progress, but it is likely to remain significant for at least another year.

The problem with getting users up to the latest version is not down to a lack of interest. Indeed, 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.

Whenever Google releases a new version of Android, device OEMs have to then customize the release, add their own tweaks and personalizations. 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 owners a new device. 

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."

Topic: Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Given up...

    waiting. I installed KitKat on my Galaxy S3 last week. I put 4.3 on it in December and it certainly speeded up the device - it went from over 10 seconds to return to the home screen from Mail to under a second. The S3 was about that fast when new (using 4.1), but slowed down over time.

    I think this is probably down to the lack of TRIM support in 4.1.

    This is however the biggest drawback with Android, not the "must have the newest version," but the slowness of updates, including security fixes, generally.
  • KitKat powering 1.4 percent of Android devices

    The real problem is the slowness and seeming unwillingness by carriers to upgrade to the newer versions of android. Once you buy a product your pretty much on your own and eventually users will wise up and demand a better level of support.
    • Consumers

      The overwhelming percentage of buyers are completely unaware of the importance of updated OS's (or else don't care). This is what allows the manufacturers to get away with selling products with an outdated and never to be updated OS.

      I don't see this changing in the near future. Those who are aware either buy Nexus products or Google Play editions. The rest just make their purchases based on word of mouth, user reviews, or recommendations in a magazine.

      I love the Android platform, but it is truly disjointed.
  • The difference with apple is that their integration is done internally.

    Adrian, You just said the kindle fire HDX is "by far the best tablet, better than iPad" - note that its made possible because of extreme "android fragmentation". Does anyone criticize google and bring up fragmentation because Amazon's kindle fire OS is version(s) behind the mainline android?

    The samsung version of android is so heavily customized its basically "samsung OS" - an OS that can run android apps. It it google's responsibility to deal with that - say "hey you can't do that samsung."

    When google releases a new OS version, we all hear about it because its made public. People using the google "reference hardware", i.e the nexus phones, get it right away. What is the fault of google/android if a particular OEM or carrier needs to take its time on the integration and testing phase for their own purposes.

    True, non nexus users may not get security patches quickly like apple. However smartphones are much more inherently secure anyway, if only because of everything comming from centralized app stores. If you are concerned, get a nexus 5! They are super cheap, and with benchmarks comparable to an iPhone 5s.

    I'm currently developing an app myself - and I'm quite comfortable targeting only 4.0+, an over 75% usage share. That's 750 milllon potential users - more than apple has.

    Also when apple releases a new OS, that has nothign to do with what new features your device might get - its limited by the hardware capabilities. There is still the same hardware fragmentation there.

    The only limitations of android 4.0 and up are more or less also determined by the hardware. And much of the new software functionality is delivered by the play services, regardless of OS version.
  • By the time KitKat in on 5% of Android smartphones, Google will have

    released "Flan", or whatever they call the next version.

    Has there ever been any Android version that ever attained 100% adoption? 50%? Do I hear 40%?

    Android fragmentation is a complete joke, and I own an Android device which won't get KitKat until March. This whole Android OS update scheme is so stupid.