Gingerbread is hot, and lots of people screamed for Ice Cream. But Jelly Bean is in the sweetest spot. The latest stats from Google's dashboard for its Developers' Blog show that version 2.3 (Gingerbread), first released in December 2010, is the most common one in use, with 44 percent of the pie, down from just over half in the December rundown.
Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0, first released in October 2011, is the next most popular version with 28.6 percent of Android devices in use. But that's only a minuscule increase from December's 27.5 percent.
The biggest increase in share was seen in Jelly Bean-equipped devices, which more than doubled from 6.7 percent in December to 14.9 percent this month. Jelly Bean (version 4.1) was released in July 2012. The updated version, 4.2, released in November 2012, is in use by a much smaller number, 1.6 percent of devices.
The numbers are based on a sampling of Android devices that accessed Google Play, the store for apps and media, during a two-week period ending March 1.
The Jelly Bean share is sure to jump even higher soon as Samsung releases its Galaxy S IV in the next few months and it continues its rollout to other recent phones, such as the Galaxy S III, HTC's One X on AT&T's network and the Samsung Galaxy Stellar on Verizon Wireless.
As we reported last July, contract cycles suggest a large majority of Android users will skip over Ice Cream Sandwich-powered devices. When their Gingerbread-powered devices are up for renewal many will upgrade directly to Jelly Bean devices now on the market or entering the market.
In between those versions was Honeycomb, Android 3.0, which was designed for tablets.
Next up will be Key Lime Pie, which is likely to be unveiled at the next Google I/O, the company's developer conference, beginning May 17.
The percentage of people using the earliest versions of Android has become negligible. Version 1.5 (Cupcake) didn't make the chart at all (0.5 percent in December) while Donut (1.6) was in use by 0.2 percent of devices detected. Eclair (2.1) was in use in just 1.9 percent, down from 2.7 percent, and Froyo (version 2.2) fell to 7.5 percent from 10.3 in December. However, collectively, older operating systems, including Gingerbread, still account for more than half of Android devices in use.
"Though previous versions of the OS have been superseded technologically, the fact that they retain a significant share suggests that the Android market is more diverse and may be [more] vital than more traditional operating environments," said IT analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
"Vendors like Microsoft and Apple whose revenue streams depend on homogeneously rolling out new versions of their OSes and making certain customers follow along as uniformly and quickly as possible are playing a different game."
In Google's case, King said, they are taking a more flexible approach that is friendlier to users and developers by supporting a wide range of devices.
"I believe that's one of the reasons Android has been so successful in emerging markets," he told us.