August 2, 2012

Android Market Share: Ice Cream Sandwiched By Gingerbread

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Android continues to hold a good majority of the handset market, yet within that big Android piece of the pie, there's several versions of the operating system that cut the pie into thinner slices. Android's newest version, Ice Cream Sandwich, has grown by 50 percent, but is still dwarfed by the share that Gingerbread takes.

Data released on an Android developer community site provided by Google shows that Android Ice Cream Sandwich holds nearly 16 percent of the platform's market. Gingerbread holds the highest market share with just over 60 percent of Android users. Gingerbread, Android 2.3, became available in December 2010. Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, was released in October 2011.

The two versions combined, Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, comprise Android's largest market share. Lesser represented versions of Android include Cupcake (Android version 1.5); Donut (1.6); Éclair (2.1); Froyo (2.2); Honeycomb (3.1) and Jelly Bean (4.1). Jelly Bean is the most recent version of Android released by Google. It became available last month, July 2012. It's only available on two handsets: the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. The newer Jelly Bean comprises 0.8 percent of the Android market.

Google released data on Android market share as an aid to developers. Developers can use the data to get insight into how many users there are for each version, and use that data to determine how to focus development. For instance, a developer might want to make sure an app will run on Gingerbread devices, which is API level nine and 10. Different versions of Android run at API levels between three and 16. While it's tempting to use API kit 16 to develop an app with the greatest features, a developer might be disappointed when it doesn't get the number of downloads expected.

Gingerbread was released two years ago, which means cell phone users with two-year contracts have been waiting to upgrade their phones. It is possible that we'll see Jelly Bean grow based on the number of contracts that get renewed with the newest phones. Ice Cream Sandwich might get a little more market share in the process, with users selecting less expensive handsets with slightly older software.

Some handset manufacturers and carriers hold back on upgrading software, reports CNET Asia. Handsets might be eligible to upgrade to newer versions of Android, but the carriers don't push out updates, or even hold updates from users who look for them. Those handsets are locked into whatever version of software they got when the handset was purchased.

A breakdown of what handset manufacturers are allowing, as far as updating models with newer versions of Android operating system software, was reported on SlashGear. Sony has not committed to updating its handsets; LG will leave a few of its handsets with current versions of the operating system. HTC said it will update the One X, One S and One XL with a new version of the operating system and Samsung has not yet said whether it will update the Galaxy S III.