Contract Cycle Suggests Many Will Skip Ice Cream Sandwich
By Adam Dickter / Mobile Tech Today. Updated July 04, 2012.
Everyone screamed for Ice Cream when it as released in October, and depending on your device, some are getting it faster than others. But with a successor already unveiled, some may end up skipping it.
New figures show that eight months after 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) the eighth version of Google's Android operating system -- now the most popular mobile OS in the world -- began rolling out via Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, 10.9 percent of all Android devices are running the newest available version.
Android 4.1 was announced by Google at its I/O developers conference in San Francisco last week, nicknamed Jelly Bean in keeping with the dessert-treat theme of releases.
The vast majority of Android users, 63.6 percent, are still packing 2.3.3 through 2.3.7, part of the Gingerbread release, said Google via its developers' blog, based on "the number of Android devices that have accessed Google Play within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date" of July 2nd.
Gingerbread was released at the end of 2010, which suggests that upgrades of older devices at the end of two-year plans will at year's end have a large chunk of users, if not the majority, skipping over Ice Cream Sandwich straight to Jelly Bean.
The stats showed a tiny number of users still using Android 1.5 (0.2 percent) while the second largest share after Gingerbread is 2.2 (FroYo), with 17.3 percent.
Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), the first Android system optimized for tablet use, is in use by only 2.4 percent of people accessing Play, the stats suggest. Of those using Ice Cream Sandwich, 10.7 percent are using versions 4.0.3 or 4.0.4 while a much smaller number, 0.5 percent are using 4.0 or 4.0.2.
After a device purchase, it is not necessarily up to the user to decide which version he or she uses.
"In most cases the device user does not have a choice when upgrading to a new OS," says Kirk D. Parsons, a wireless analyst for J.D. Power and Associates. "It's mainly controlled by the carrier and when they want to push out the new update."
But another analyst, Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, told us carriers tend to shy away from updates because they can cause problems, for which they will be blamed.
"Updates aren't regularly pushed down on Android devices, this is one of the dark secrets of the platform, and the old carrier-driven smartphone market in general," Enderle said.
"Over time this becomes a nasty problem for developers because it represents, to them, massive fragmentation of the base. I think this showcases that Google doesn't yet really understand, or doesn't have enough control over their devices to truly make them competitive with the iPhone, and it showcases that the market-share numbers putting them ahead are misleading."
Enderle said the larger update rate of Apple's iOS devices and lower fragmentation rate "explains why revenue on Android is elusive and why iPhone apps are generally better and more profitable. The iOS developer and user have the benefits of current code, Android not so much."