latest Android fragmentation numbers for November and for the first time ever Gingerbread is the most used version of the Android platform. Gingerbread versions starting at 2.3.3 rose 5.7% from 38.2% to 43.9% of all Android devices while version 2.2 Frozen Yogurt fell 4.6% from 45.3% to 40.7%.Google has released the
The decline of Froyo is accelerating, having gone from 51.2% of all Android devices to its current level in two months. In that same time frame, Gingerbread has risen 13.1%. The major Android OEMs are not shipping new devices with Froyo anymore which should further accelerate the adoption of Gingerbread especially with the holiday shopping season and the new devices that are being released that are sure to have large marketing campaigns until the end of the year.
It will be interesting to see how long Froyo hangs to a significant percentage of the Android ecosystem. Froyo was really when Android starting taking off and is one of the biggest jumps that the platform has taken in its history. Ice Cream Sandwich is the next biggest jump and will begin phasing out Gingerbread next year. There will likely always be three flavors of Android with double-digit representation in the ecosystem, as Éclair is still holding on to nearly one in every 10 Android devices with 10.7% (down from 11.7% last year).
Honeycomb did not make any appreciable gains in the last month, staying at less than 2% among its three API levels. The only difference is that Android 3.0 went down from 0.2% while version 3.2 went up to 0.9%. That is most likely due to updates as opposed to sales of new devices. Android tablet sales have been better in the latter half of 2011 but the explosive growth of Android smartphones keeps the Honeycomb percentage low of overall devices in the ecosystem.
Heading into 2012, we are likely to start seeing a major split between Ice Cream Sandwich and the older versions of Android. Many OEMs are not going to upgrade older devices to Gingerbread, let alone the logistical jumps that are needed to institute Ice Cream Sandwich. Most devices that launched with Gingerbread will likely see an expedited upgrade cycle but that is still going to be a cycle that takes months as opposed to weeks.
Google and the Open Handset Alliance could learn something from the way Microsoft handled the Windows Phone 7 upgrade from the original version to Mango 7.5. It was a graduated rollout over a month where most (80% supposedly) saw the upgrade within the first two weeks. Granted, it is much easier for Microsoft to do a coordinated rollout of Windows Phone updates because there is much less device fragmentation in that ecosystem and millions upon millions less devices in the market. There are upwards of 270 Android unique Android devices worldwide where Windows Phone only has a handful that are being used by a small percentage of people. At the same time, the Mango update originated from Microsoft, not the OEMs. Google could be more proactive in its role as the proprietor of Android and issue updates centrally as opposed to leaving it up to the agreements between the OEMs and carriers.