Google’s monthly Android figures are in. And the stats will make pleasing reading at Mountain View, with over 90 per cent of devices now loaded up with Android 2.1 or higher. That’s certainly great news for the Big G as it fights to kill off talk of fragmentation and cement its new position as the best-selling smartphone platform in the world.
The figures are all moving in the right direction for Google. Froyo, still the dominant version of the platform with Gingerbread only available on the Nexus S, has scored 57.6 per cent of the market, after HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson all finally shifted the bulk of their Android handsets onto the 2.2 iteration.
Meanwhile, Android 2.1 has slipped back to 31.4 per cent. 3.9 per cent still have the original and creaking Android 1.5, while 6.3 per cent are stuck with Android 1.6. It’s safe bet that a large number of the latter are from Sony Ericsson’s Xperia range, which were released last year but have only recently got the bump to newer software.
So has Google finally sorted fragmentation for good? On the one hand, yes. OEMs are finally getting into line and realise that releasing phones without the latest, or latest but one, version of Android does not go down well with tech savvy consumers.
The Big G has also said that it’s going to space out OS releases in order to allow for easier updates and lessen confusion among those who aren’t necessarily clued up on the vagaries of updating smartphone software. These numbers show that the Froyo roll out has finally gained traction. But the interesting figures will come in the next few months as Gingerbread phones become more prevalent post-MWC.
Will manufacturers and networks dither with releasing this version of the software in the same way they did with Froyo? It’s likely. But perhaps Google has simply accepted that fragmentation is a reality when you have an open platform. This approach, however, continues to give succour to Apple and those who believe a more unified and uniform approach will win out in the end.
Then Google has to deal with the forthcoming issue of Honeycomb. It’s admitted that this is not a smartphone build of the OS, but nothing’s stopping an OEM opting to load it up on a handset.
The levels of confusion could easily rise as the UI is so different. It’s evident from these new figures that Google has a handle on fragmentation right now. But the coming months will prove critical if it wants things to stay that way. Android 2.3 and 3.0 are about to change everything again.