Google’s latest Android usage figures represent both good and bad news for the Mountain View company.
On the one hand, Jelly Bean has at last broken that magical 50% barrier, the majority of devices at last using the (just) up-to-date system.
On the flip side, a worrying 26% are still stuck on Android Gingerbread.
That’s more than a quarter of Google’s vast global installed base using an OS that’s almost three years old.
The idea of any iPhone still packing iOS 4 is frankly laughable.
This nagging number represents a selection of users who cannot and do not get the latest Google services and can’t access the best new third-party apps.
The users may be happy, but Google and its wider developer community is losing out on vast sums of cash by these people not being up-to-date.
If it wasn’t evident before, it’s now perfectly clear that Android KitKat can’t come soon enough.
The revelation that it’ll work on older devices with as little as 512MB of RAM shows that Google is serious, perhaps even desperate, to get this last quarter onto newer software.
By doing so, it’ll be able to offer the likes of Google Now, an improved Android photo editor and a whole heap of updated native apps.
That means more users exposed to Google services, hence more ad dollars.
Likewise, third-party devs will be desperate to see KitKat succeed, so they can serve ads or cream cash from a large number of untapped users.
Of course, the issue, as discussed before, is the manufacturers. They’ll want KitKat on new kit, but not old handsets.
It’ll undermine the sale of newer devices in 2014, something the likes of HTC will be keen to avoid when it’s hovering so close to going under.
It all means that while we could see KitKat dominate quicker than Jelly Bean, it’s unlikely we’ll see that headline Gingerbread figure move much in the next year or so.
The only way it is likely to change is through users upgrading their hardware, rather than running a software update.
Going all out to make KitKat a success is to be lauded.
However, it’s hard to imagine Google will be able to get the OS on more than 50% of its devices within the next year.
If it does, it’ll have delivered qualified success. But the days of it matching the speed with which Apple users adopt a new version of iOS are a long way into the future.