Google has updated the Android version distribution charts for November that confirm that for the first time Gingerbread is the most used version of Android platform. The second Gingerbread release covering versions 2.3.3 to 2.3.7 is now in the lead with an increase of 7.5% thus surpassing Froyo, Android’s previous leader.
Froyo’s popularity has been declining at an accelerating rate with a fall of 4.6% in two months between September and October. Android 2.2 Froyo has been continuously loosing its ground resulting in its decline to less than 50% of all Android smartphones as maximum handsets are now getting Gingerbread updates that accounts for its 13.1% rise. The rise of Gingerbread is also being correlated to its drop in version 2.1 and below.
There are several reasons for the sudden height of Gingerbread with the biggest factor being the release of Samsung Galaxy S II, deemed to be the most powerful Android phone currently. The fact that all major Android OEMs are no more shipping new devices running on Froyo that include Droid Bionic and HTC Thunderbolt is another reason.
The next version of Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich is due to release next week at the CTIA Enterprise and Applications conference in San Diego. It is likely that there will always be three flavors of Android with double-digit representation in the ecosystem, with Eclair still holding onto one among every ten Android devices that comes to 10.7%. Thus a significant portion of the ecosystem is still functioning with outdated versions since those phones are accessing Android Market and finding apps that do not work on their phones. Thus it is important for Google and Android ecosystem to increase Gingerbread adoption to bury the stigma of low end user base, especially with the holiday shopping season and new devices being released that are sure to grab large market campaigns until year end.
It will be interesting to see how long Froyo holds onto a significant percentage of Android ecosystem. When Android started taking off, Froyo was one of the biggest platform jumps recorded in history. The explosive growth of Android smartphone has kept Honeycomb at an overall 2% in its three API levels.Android 1.5 Cupcake and 1.6 Doughnut still seem to hold onto their place in the market share. However they acquire only 2.3% of total Android smartphones. The only difference noticed is the fall of Android 3.0 to 0.2% while the rise of 3.2 version to 0.9%.
A major split between Ice Cream Sandwich and other older Android versions is expected at the onset of 2012. Most Android applications are designed for version 2.1 so Ice Cream Sandwich will face difficulty bringing out anything below 2.1 into its fold. However devices launched with Gingerbread can expect an upgradation that would take months rather than weeks owing to Android’s poor upgradation history. Google ought to be more actively involved and issue updates centrally rather than leaving it upon agreements between OEMs and carriers.