Google's latest Android release, "Jelly Bean" continues to gain market share and is now powering more than one out of every eight devices.
Data collected by the search giant for devices accessing the Google Play store during the 14-day period ending on February 4, shows that usage share for Android 4.1 and Android 4.2—collectively dubbed "Jelly Bean"—has once again risen compared to the same period last month, rising from 10.2 percent to 13.6 percent.
Android is seeing spectacular growth, especially in China where two out of every three mobile phones sold were powered by Android, making it the single largest market for the platform.
"Jelly Bean" has been around since July 2012, when it was first offered on the Nexus 7 tablet. Since then, many popular devices running the operating system have been released, including the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10.
Overall, it is estimated that around 786 million Android smartphone devices were sold worldwide in 2012.
The slow adoption of new versions of Android affects everyone in the ecosystem. While it is good for developers and consumers alike that the latest Android release is gaining traction, the fact that so many old Android versions are still being used presents a problem for the ecosystem. Not only does it force developers to support an ever-increasing array of aging versions, preventing them from making full use of new features, it also means that consumers are denied new features, and not getting security updates that help keep their handsets and tablets safe from hackers and malware.
It's also bad for enterprises that have embraced bring-your-own-device (BYOD), since in means having to put policies in place for a wide number of platforms, many of which are now unsupported. Keeping the workforce on the latest version—or even the on one of the last few releases—is difficult.
The Android fragmentation problem is going to get worse before it gets better, and everyone who has an interest in the operating system—consumers developers, enterprise—needs to be aware of this. Millions of devices running old, outdated versions of Android aren't going to go away any time soon.
The most popular version of Android continues to be Android 2.3 "Gingerbread." This version hasn't seen an update from Google since September 2011.