A recent update shows Android 4.0 has only 4.9% share.
Many have been talking about the state of Android Fragmentation in the OS world and a debate seems to be emerging as to whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. While the discussions have been going on for a while, the recent update to the Android Developer Platform Versions is going to raise the discussions up a level as a result. This most recent information shows that Ice Cream Sandwich has gone from a 2.9% share to a 4.9% share which is disturbing at best. This is based on the Android platform version page which is as of May 1st and represents the last 14 days of of Android devices which accessed Google Play. While this may not be extremely scientific, it is representative of the various versions.
The unsettling state of rolling out Android 4.0 is problematic and with Android phones continuing to sell with Android 2.3, it makes one wonder about the state of fragmentation for Android. This is especially true with the rumored coming of Jelly Bean in Q3 this year. This has become such an issue, there is even a web site devoted to Android Fragmentation and they maintain a database showing phone models and which Android OS version they are running. While they are working to completely populate their information, it is telling just how big of a problem there is when you have a site dedicated to the Android fragmentation issue.
Developers are thought to be the ones facing problems as a result of fragmentation, but their issue is the variations of handsets running various versions of Android. While many focus on the developers side of fragmentation, the real problem is the consumer. That is where we should be looking as there will always be fragmentation of the OS. Just look at Microsoft and Windows XP. Multiple versions of OS is a reality and is not going to change. But for the consumer, they purchase a smart phone with the expectation that it will be upgraded soon after the latest OS comes out.
Apple has demonstrated it can be done with their iOS, but that is because they are in control of the hardware and software. They have also kept the wireless carriers out of the OS where they always want to add on their bloatware. Consumers want to have the most recent OS and that is especially true for Android. We are now 4 months and counting since the Galaxy Nexus came out with Ice Cream Sandwich. Once that came out, the general expectations were that all eligible phones would see Android 4.0 by February. That has definitely not happened and looks like roll out announcements are going to continue for months.
Consumers are the ones who care the most about getting the latest OS installed. Google has a challenge to provide consumers with the latest OS in a timely manner. The only way they are going to do that is to try and reduce the number of changes which manufacturers and wireless carriers are making to the Android OS. This would reduce the amount of time it takes to go from a Google release to be installed on all eligible cell phones. That kind of a change will be problematic for Google because of the freedom they have given manufacturers and wireless carriers to date. It can be done, but will be difficult. Another option would be to require options for the consumers where they can opt for a manufacturer/carrier version of Android or a vanilla, straight from Google, Android version.
With the rapid pace of rolling out new versions of the Android OS, Google must do something to radically improve the adoption rate for Ice Cream Sandwich and the future Jelly Bean. What do you think?