Have you ever heard me complain about Android fragmentation as a major issue? Yeah, you probably have. But there is actually some good news on the fragmentation front – more than half of all Android phones are running the latest operating system Android 2.3.x aka ‘Gingerbread’. Add to that the 35.3% running the previous version Froyo (2.2), and you have more than 85% on a ‘fairly unified’ platform.
Why does this matter? It offers developers a more narrow target, which allows them to make software with more features and greater compatibility with less need to tweak for a variety of versions. There are still some distinct differences between Froyo and Gingerbread … but much less than with Eclair and even more so with earlier versions!
The month before the total Froyo / Gingerbread share was just over 84% (40% Froyo, 43% Gingerbread) and in October the two also combined for ~83.5% (45% Froyo, 38% Gingerbread). This shows that we have seen a slow erosion of older versions, but a rapid adoption of Gingerbread on newer phones. There are certainly older phones – like the original Droid – that are still out there in the millions that will never be updated and will fall off the charts through attrition.
The cautionary note comes with the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). What will the conversion rate look like a year from now? Will we just continue to replace one version with another on the chart at the top, or will ICS finally make true strides towards eliminating fragmentation? Only time will tell – and it depends largely on carriers and handset makers. The rapid move to Gingerbread is heartening … but ICS brings in a whole new world of challenges.
Where do YOU think we will be next December?