It’s the beginning of the month, and that means Google has updated their Android version fragmentation stats on the developer’s website. The numbers haven’t grown dramatically, but versions 1.6 and below are slowly dwindling away (no surprise there).
As it stands today, approximately 77% of Android users are running on version 2.1 (Eclair) or 2.2 (Froyo), leaving 1.6 (Donut) and 1.5 (Cupcake) in the dust. Eclair only grew 0.4% in the past month, and Froyo saw the biggest gain, tacking on another 2.8%. While the gains aren’t much, it’s nice to see that the older versions of the OS don’t even account for a quarter of users anymore. More and more devices are starting to ship with Froyo installed, and as time goes on, this number will only grow.
Well, the number will grow until we see the official introduction of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Then the word fragmentation will be thrown around a bit more, and the share that Froyo and Eclair hold will begin to shrink as well. Gingerbread is said to take aim at the custom user interfaces slathered on many Android phones today, which is usually the biggest reason customized handsets face delays in getting updates to the newest version of the Google mobile operating system. Carriers can also aid in these delays, too.
Google wants to make the Android UI compelling enough that they can make custom skins irrelevant. That’s just not going to happen, as manufacturers want a way to differentiate themselves from the competition, even if it means annoying the user by delaying an update because of a custom UI. I’d expect to see more stock Android handsets hitting the market, but we likely won’t see the sales volume of stock Android smartphones that Google would like to see. Google is getting blamed for handset maker’s choice to skin the OS, which is unfortunate, but that’s how open source rolls.
Those who own a Nexus One or a G2 can revel in the fact that they will likely receive Gingerbread first, as both handsets sport stock Android. Other phones will have to wait until the new SDK is released and gets rejiggered to work with their UI. Either way, we’re glad to see more than 75% of users are running on the two most recent versions on the OS. Too bad that won’t be the case for much longer.