The numbers speak for themselves: Android Lollipop has been installed on just 1.6% of all Google–backed phones.
Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS 8 is now sitting pretty on 72% of iPhones and iPads, with its installation base growing fast after a sticky start.
There are, of course, mitigating factors.
Android Lollipop is only available on select Nexus and Google Play Edition devices, as well as a small selection of phones from Motorola and HTC.
It was also released six weeks later than iOS 8, in early November 2014.
But that’s not to say that these figures don’t paint a continuing picture of a platform riven with divisions and of buggy software that has left users frustrated.
Just this week HTC said it was missing its self–imposed 90-day deadline to have Android Lollipop on all One (M7) and One (M8) devices.
Why? Because of the glitches that were evident when Google released the initial code. The OS was, frankly, a mess.
It rendered phones and tablets slow and verging on unusable, with some apps simply not opening.
Drill deeper into Google’s official Android stats and you can see just what a mess its OS is in.
2013’s Android KitKat is growing, on 39.7% of phones. The even older Jelly Bean edition now makes up for a total of 44.5% of Android devices.
Android’s issues with fragmentation are well known.
But it seems that even when Google tries to fix them with a new update, it cannot win.
Lollipop was clearly released too early, when it required a lot more testing and a lot more partners to be on board from the start.
Apple’s case is clearly different, seeing as it controls both hardware and software. But it does show that you can overcome initial failings.
iOS 8 was a mess upon launch, causing countless issues.
But with further updates it has managed to turn itself around and is now easily the most popular version of the platform.
Why does this matter? Well, when users are spending hundreds over a two-year contract on the latest products, they deserve the latest software to go with them.
Buying Android simply doesn’t guarantee that, meaning innovations aren’t always available and apps are more susceptible to crashes and bugs.
It’s no surprise that so many of Apple’s 74.5 million iPhone sales at the end of 2014 were said to be down to Android switching.
Users are weary of overly complex and ugly software and want something simple and easier to handle. iOS 8 delivers that in spades.
Google may turn Lollipop around. That 1.6% number will rise on the back of new releases in the next few months.
But it’s time that all partners were made to update simultaneously to bring some order to the world’s most popular smartphone platform.