It's that time again! We get another glimpse at what the platform distribution numbers are like for Android. If you've been following along, you'll notice there aren't many changes: Gingerbread is still the biggest slice of the pie, Ice Cream Sandwich is second, and the two major versions of Jelly Bean together make up the third largest. 2.3 is down to 45.4% from 47.4% a month ago. That 2% difference seems to have gone overwhelmingly to Jelly Bean which went up to 13.6% from 10% a month ago.


The most curious shift, however, was Ice Cream Sandwich. While the change was minimal, the version dropped from 29.1% to a flat 29%. Keeping in mind that, since its release, ICS has been the baseline for modern phone OSes. Not as good as Jelly Bean, but the next-oldest version was a year older than that, and at least 4.0 brought a bunch of new APIs and compatibility.

What the slight drop means (if anything) is anyone's guess. It's conceivable that ICS had such slow uptake due to the major differences between it and GB, but now that the market has stabilized and Gingerbread phones are being left behind, handset manufacturers are seeing little problem with just bumping their new models to Jelly Bean, or upgrades are coming out faster.

Here's hoping this means the upgrade situation is getting better. Then again, with 8.1% of people still on Froyo, it seems inevitable that Android will always have this black mark on its record.

Source: Google

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • yahyoh

    20% of the ICS devices and 10% of 4.1 are Samsung devices :D

    • Danny Holyoake

      If any other OEM absolutely swamped the market with dozens of phones with identical specs, I'm sure they'd have a majority as well.

      It's great Samsung are pushing 4.1 out there, but the amount of crap-end devices is only watering their own brand.

      • omegavesko

        True, but none of said low-tier devices are running ICS.

        Also, have you seen what HTC has been doing for a while now? They aren't exactly much better.

        • Freak4Dell

          A lot of their newer low-tier devices are running either ICS or JB. The Galaxy S3 Mini, The Galaxy Young, The Galaxy Fame, etc. I know those were only released recently, so they probably don't make up a significant portion of these numbers, but eventually they, and the 40 billion different versions of them that Samsung will inevitably release over the next 2 years, will.

      • http://twitter.com/Konahamarue ElementalXTC

        How dare you insult Samsung!!! They put in alot of work to modify the SGS3 for multiple markets! Everybody can't afford $500 mobile phones.

  • Scott

    Android will always have this problem. Unfortunately.

    • http://twitter.com/ElooieIV Edward Lewis

      For now the only real problem is the GB numbers.. 4.0 got the new APIs and UI design that makes most new apps work fine in both ICS and JB. There is going to be a point where GB really takes a nose dive. The only question is how much under the hood will change from JB to KLP.

      • mgamerz

        Hopefully not a lot, cause writing apps for 2.3 and 4.0 is a huge pain in the ass, you have to do so much compatability stuff. The compatability library only goes so far and they conveniently left out preference fragments.

  • PCSievers

    My guess is the stats bear out the theory that the market is two tiered, people who bought cheap on GB are upgrading to JB and ICS is dropping because manufacturers are rolling out upgrades to its flagships.

    It should never have been expected to see ICS increase once JB was the new norm and it shrinking at the same time as GB is to be expected to as the market trends towards the most up to date software. ICS was effectively the "skipped" generation for a lot of users.

    • Guest

      I highly doubt that anyone with GB phone getting JB. I think it is because there are fewer GB devices getting ICS than ICS devices getting JB.

      • Tíghearnán Carroll

        A few GB Samsung devices are going straight to JB sometime this year.

        • fixxmyhead


          • Floris

            Yes they are updating a few gingerbread devices, for example the Galaxy S Advance, which is sold fairly good over here in the Netherlands.

          • fixxmyhead

            oh, well u will never see this in the states with all the restrictions. we've never seen any phones skip ics straight to JB. ur lucky if u even get last years old version on crappy/mid and dare i say some "flagships" *cough*HTC*cough* phones. not me im on the nexus train

          • Tíghearnán Carroll

            Have you even looked this up? Or did you just write "nope" blindly?
            Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy Ace 2, Galaxy Ace Plus, Mini II, Galaxy Beam, Galaxy Chat, and potentially the Galaxy Music Player.

          • fixxmyhead

            Yea all phones not from the U.S my bad I forget there's life outside the U.S

          • Tíghearnán Carroll

            All of those phones are in the US....

          • fixxmyhead

            ive have never heard of these on any US carrier and i follow the news everyday. galaxy s advace, ace 2 , ace plus, beam there not on any US carrier

          • http://twitter.com/winapp2 Robbie Ward

            HTC did their part last month by *finally* pushing ICS officially for the TB.

          • fixxmyhead

            Barely and only cuz of the outrage. I seriously think htc didn't want to release it but cuz of the outrage they scraped something up that's why it was soo late.

      • PCSievers

        Upgrade from a GB device to a new JB device when their two year contracts are running out. My error, I wasnt clear enough what I meant there.

  • http://twitter.com/tamalm Tamal Mukherjee

    I have never understood why can't Google do direct OTA update for all the point releases. MS would have been dead by now if they were to wait for Dell or HP or Compaq to send service packs to retail consumers.

    • Josh Brown

      It's because the versions of Android on non-nexus devices are forks. Google doesn't maintain that code, the OEMs do. On top of that, some carriers (really just CDMA carriers) want to do testing on every single firmware binary that runs on their phones (Verizon is notorious for taking forever to do this).

      The Microsoft example doesn't really apply since Windows is closed-source. Microsoft maintains the code for all releases of Windows.

      • PCSievers

        It isnt forked. Forking is a really specific term and Samsung putting Touchwiz over the top and changing a few menu layouts is not it.

        • Josh Brown

          When I said forked I meant forked. It's a compatible fork, but it's a fork nonetheless. Any upstream changes have to be merged in. It's not just a layer on top in most of the cases. Most of the time they edit the source directly. Adding the TouchWiz-style quick actions in the notification bar, for instance, would not be possible without editing the source and building independently For that matter, many of the drivers are proprietary and have to be baked in.

          I've spent enough time both as an Android application developer and dealing with Android firmware devs to know what's possible without forking the source. You can change out the launcher and swap out some of the other default apps, but the things most OEMs do requires source changes.

    • NotTheTodd

      Because Google allows manufacturers to get their greasy little paws all over the OS. If Dell or HP decided to start skinning Windows, people would throw a shit fit. But somehow people are ok with it on Android. I don't get it. Release more Nexuses (Nexii??) Google!

      • selonmoi

        Who needs more Nexuses? People who care about getting the latest updates need to start buying Nexuses. People who don't should buy other things. It's simple.

        • sebbes

          And how many people does even know witch version there are on? "People who care about getting the latest updates ..." People should not have to care, they should have the latest version with the latest security patches. Period.

          • http://twitter.com/Konahamarue ElementalXTC

            lol... Then they start building up on that "walled garden."

      • Freak4Dell

        A lot of it has to do with drivers and the fact that manufacturers release a shit ton of phones, too. If each manufacturer would cut down to 3-5 phones, and stop the stupid skins, we would have updates within a month of new AOSP code. All that would be needed would be driver updates, and the ROM would be ready to go.

  • RedPandaAlex

    I'm surprised that 4.2 isn't creeping up higher after Google's big Nexus launches last year. I really hope that in the next year or so, Nexus devices start to make up 5-10 percent of the market, so developers have motivation to be much more responsive in putting in new features.

    Hopefully it will be higher next month now that availability problems seem to be mitigated.

    • omegavesko

      They may have been 'big' launches to us, but they didn't even scratch the other OEMs sales numbers.

    • PCSievers

      Sales figures that are accurate are hard to find...but Samsung sold 5 million Note 2s in its first two months (to the end of Nov, even before the Xmas rush and big push in the US) and ASUS had sold something like 4 million total Nexus 7s by that point (despite launching months earlier). The N4 probably did no more than a million worldwide, N10 will be a fraction of that.

      So all three Nexus devices together probably didnt add up to sales much larger than one fairly niche device from one manufacturer. Just consider how many manufacturers big and small are racking up sales figures around the world and it would be completely shocking to see the Nexus devices doing more than 1% of all Android sales.

      It is really unlikely that will jump to 5% of the market over the next year or so. A big litmus test of this is how Samsung responds to the Nexus 7 when they launch the Note 8 later this month.

    • Aaron Gascoigne

      4.2 is at 1.5% meaning that nexi are that much of the market (no other device has 4.2) which isnt that bad for 3 devices, considering what they are up against, and it will be close to 2% in a month once more nexus 4s are available

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelgonzalez2012 Michael Gonzalez

    This shouldn't surprise you. There is a big jump in compatibility between GB and ICS. However once a product supports ICS there isn't as much of a major change and thus it can quickly be upgraded further to JB 4.1 and even 4.2.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    I actually am not surprised by the drop with ICS. if you pay attention you'll notice that a lot of ICS devices have updated to JB so it only makes sense to see the numbers reflect. Also we've been getting devices that have come out with straight JB way more so than ICS in recent months

    • ddpacino

      This is welcomes news! Still too many GB devices out there that probably will never get ICS. They need to get new phones by now lol

      • marcusmaximus04

        I have a Droid Charge that's still on Gingerbread that I got on May 31, 2011. I *just* became eligible for an upgrade, but will be switching from VZW to t-mob so I'm stuck with it until June.

        • ddpacino

          Whoop!! I got the Gnex last Jan on VZW, and just paid my ETF to cancel my contract to go to Tmo w/ an unlocked Nexus 4. I could not deal w/ the BS anymore -- and my friends are following. We will make a stand with our wallets!

          • Josh Legoza

            Congrats DD! Way to vote with your wallet! If enough people keep making that jump, the big 4 are bound to listen! ...Aren't they? They're obstinate enough to lock out the MVNO's instead of make their plans and policies more reasonable. I hope they do though.

        • Nduanetesh

          You *really* need to root and install a custom ROM. I had a Charge and did lots of playing around with ROMs and never had any serious issues. The benefits you'll get are definitely worth it.

          • marcusmaximus04

            Oh, I have. But even in the land of custom ROMs, the charge has been pretty neglected(I've searched to no avail for a workable ICS or jb ROM)

      • omegavesko

        Easier said than done on a two-year contract. My phone would still be on 2.3.5 until 2014 if I hadn't flashed a ROM on it.

  • Robert Kohari

    Low end phones from carriers will come and die with GB and they will never see ICS or higher, period. Some phones are just rare and there will never be a community development for it. And there are also a lot of phones from chinese manufacturers in the same position rare and no community behind it and the manufacturer will never bother with updates once sold, and frankly you can't expect much at a 50-70$ smartphone ... it has GB be happy u get mails and youtube on it ....

  • Aaron Berlin

    Just wait. If you bought a phone a year ago other than the Galaxy Nexus, it was running Gingerbread at the time. Most of those phones are not flagship devices and unfortunately never got the bump to ICS. Over the next year, all of those contracts will be up for renewal, at which point it won't even be possible to buy a <4.0 device (at least in the developed world).

    • Jens Knutson

      You have a point, but at least for the US market, you're not accounting for:
      a) all the cheap, on-contract devices that were still being sold with Gingerbread only 6-9 months ago, which will never get 4.x
      b) all the cheap, off-contract/prepaid devices being sold with Gingerbread *right now*, which will never get 4.x
      c) the millions of Americans who basically only care about price when it comes to their phone (i.e.: the target market for the devices from A and B)

      For any developer that wants to be able to hit at least 90% of devices accessing the Play store, the outlook is grim, IMO. We won't be able to really use those 4.x APIs for at least another 18-24 months. ActionBar Sherlock is amazing, but even that only goes so far.

      Google needs to provide some extra statistics in these dashboards, like "Average revenue by platform version", or "average number of apps purchased/number of IAPs per device by platform version"... If developers are going to put in all the work to support Android 2.x, they should know if it's likely to be worthwhile.

  • http://twitter.com/phonecount StalkyTheFish

    I believe the whole LG Optimus One series is forever entombed on Froyo. They were a cheap, well-built phone and there are a lot of them still out there, especially on prepaid.

    • Chad Page

      Optimus One got official GB (with a new radio firmware that custom roms need to account for), but it may not have rolled out to all carriers.

  • Kevin Niven

    Still waiting on HTC for the One X update. Overdue going on four months! Getting S4 when it comes out.

    • AHWH

      I guess your phones it tied to carrier? Cause AFAIK majority of the One X user have gotten it before 2012 ends.

      If your carrier is already delaying your JB update for the One X. Don't expect them to miraculously push out KLP update the moment Samsung released it for the S4 for the rest of the world.

  • Paul M

    I think this is a testimony to the fact that Gingerbread is actually a really good OS for mobile phones - the point at which it was starting to rival iOS.

    • http://twitter.com/Konahamarue ElementalXTC

      You are in a small minority. As someone coming from HTC Inspire > HTC Vivid > iPhone 4 > Samsung Galaxy Note 2... I must ICS brought many great features to Android that rival iOS.
      I'm not a fanboy of any tech company, but I gotta give iOS props for being hellaciously smooth and user-friendly. When I recommend Android to friends/family, I always point them towards an ICS device.

  • Freak4Dell

    Every now and then, I fire up a Cupcake device just to throw these numbers off.

  • ElfirBFG

    4.0.4 and 4.2 running on my XT910. Maybe I'll throw on 4.1 and 2.3 as well, just to screw with the stats.

  • carlisimo

    It just means it's easier to upgrade phones from 4.0 to 4.1 than from 2.3 to 4.0. There are also a lot of phones still being sold with Gingerbread. For devices with lower specs, maybe that's a good thing. I'd hate to have 512MB RAM on an ICS/JB phone.

  • firenz

    And I just upgraded my Optimus One from Froyo to Gingerbread,
    lol :D

  • http://twitter.com/rhubarbsticks Dom

    A visit to my local mobile store you'll see plenty of low end Android devices running gingerbread for sale. The average user doesn't care what version of the OS they are running. All they want is a good value working phone with perhaps email and web browsing. They probably don't even know that their phone is running on Android. Android's challenge is to build a relationship with these average users so that they stay with the platform.

  • http://twitter.com/Gehim Rehan Ahmed

    Android 4.2 is up to 1.4%,
    seeing that it's only Google Nexus devices with Jelly Bean Android 4.2,
    it seems like Nexus sales are going pretty wild out there!

    • Chad Page

      And custom ROMs, CM 10.1 nightlys are out for quite a few phones...

  • http://www.facebook.com/cedarus Dan Herrera

    The only reason Android still shows an 8.1% of users on Froyo shows that manufacturers are spending way too much money skinning their UIs like Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense. The man hours needed to complete the UIs adds to the cost of phones and thus gets passed on to the consumers. Another reason that percentage of people are still on Froyo might come from emerging markets. A clear example of this can be seen here in Mexico: An unlocked Galaxy S3 quad core from Basatne.com costs $617 (about 7800 pesos at today's exchange rates) while here in Mexico the same phone costs 11,749 pesos (roughly $900). All phones in Mexico follow this pattern and most people don't have the kind of money to be paying the outrageous prices that cell phone companies charge here and thus they keep their old phones until they either break or can afford another budget phone.