Jul 03 AT 8:00 AM Anthony Domanico 68 Comments

Android 4.0 only on 11% of Android devices weeks before Jelly Bean release


The Android Developer site has just released their latest dashboard which paints a picture of operating system penetration. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was announced back in October of last year, and in the 9 months since launch has only managed to find its way onto 11% of Android devices. Frankly, that’s an abysmal figure and points to the failures of the so-called Android Update Alliance.

But let’s ignore throwing blame around, for now; after all, there’s plenty of that to go around. Last week, Google took the wraps off of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is set to launch to Nexus-caliber devices in the coming weeks. Will it be another 9 months until the masses a treated to their favorite jelly bean treat? We’re hopeful that the answer to that question is a resounding no.

Google and its partners are very keenly aware of the adoption problem, and have released the Platform Development Kit, which will be made available to handset makers a good two to three months before new Android releases are made available to the public. In theory, manufacturers have had access to Jelly Bean for a few months now, and with such early access could more rapidly build the custom UI elements they believe differentiate their devices and add support for component drivers, which should result in more timely upgrades for consumers.

Hopefully we’ll see more timely upgrades starting with Jelly Bean, but we’ll have to wait to see how it all pans out in the next few months. Jelly Bean will provide the first true test of the PDK and its effect on the Android ecosystem.

Source: Android Developer Site

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • http://goo.gl/tQ2E wwJOSHdo

    Tell me about it, it’s ridiculous! I have an Evo 4G LTE, and I’m stuck with Sense on top of beautiful ICS. I installed Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JbjiZYGKao&hd=1 and it’s awesome!! It’s what ICS should of been all along!

    • Shay D. Life

      While agree with you in Jelly Bean being what ICS should have been, you have to take in account the people (the public) that push Google for updates. Google could have waited until ICS reached Jelly Bean’s standards, but if they had waited folks would’ve been upset that there was nothing new at I/O last year.

      • Joshua

        point of this article is people have waited. Carriers who haven’t pushed ICS should just scrap it now and do Jelly Bean. It’s horrendous that 9 months later ICS is only on 11% of devices. Does anybody else realize how absolutely horrendous that number is? It’s bordering on the verge of outrageous. It’s the number 1 reason why I am thinking of ditching Android after a supporter from the beginning. IF they can’t get control of this buying a phone that has the capabilities to be upgraded is going to be worthless.

    • kazahani

      Don’t forget that ICS has been out for over 8 months now. All the Jelly Bean goodness was probably not ready for prime time back in November when the GNex launched.

      • zerosix

        Also, don’t forget about carriers, numerous chinese manufacturers and, of course, those manufacturers, that make dozens of devices.
        It’s not correct to say “look, most Apple devices have the latest OS available”. First of all, Apple has just 8 devices (or something like that). And they say, that it’s premium products.
        Many Android phones are built on Android just because of it’s simplicity and, actually, because of absolute absence of alternatives. Many consumers even don’t realize, that they have operation system or RAM, ROM, cores, blablabla, they use their Android-powered phones like feature-phones.
        I want to say that 11% is not something bad. It doesn’t show that Android dies, manufacturers are bastards or something else. It just shows, that there are about 11% of flagship devices.

        • userx

          Keep in mind 6% of is because of roms on XDA.

          Without those “unofficial” 4.0+ roms, I would think people would care more.

          So were all still getting bent over by Google, but no one cares.

          • userx

            Fuck you down rating pussies, You know its the truth.


          • clocinnorcal

            How can you blame Google when they post the source code soon after announcement? Yeah, the situation sucks, but you should blame your service provider and/or the manufactuer of your device if its stuck on an older version. Besides, Google sells you the most recent updated phone at the Play Store. I will say that I completely agree with you that XDA devs are often times the lonesome hero’s when it comes to updating older devices that the carriers and manufactuers gave up on for whatever reason.

  • seabass978

    Can’t really blame google since it is the manufacturer and/or the carrier fault at the end. With that said, doesn’t look good for my htc amaze to see jelly bean, ics is good already though.

    • http://nickvettesephotography.com Nicholas Vettese

      Hopefully with Google competing directly, G-Nex and Nexus7 on the play store, more OEMs and carriers will begin to see the light, and begin sending updates to their devices.

      I will never buy another Moto or Sammy device, other than a Nexus branded one, and that is only if it comes directly from the Play Store. I think Moto and Sammy have screwed their customers more than any other, so I refuse to do business with them.

      I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab, still on HC, but my Transformer Prime, that has ICS. ASUS knows how to take care of their customers, and my wife and son’s original Transformers are still getting updates.

    • kazahani

      I think that they now share some of the blame. The system is obviously broken, and the onus is now on Google to come up with a solution. If you ask me, they should sandbox all the carrier bloatware and OEM skins, and build a back-door into Android so that Google can update directly over-the-air.

    • Fulaman

      Thus the reason why I will only be buying pure Google phones from this point on.

  • K2theIzzo

    What would the chart look like if it only displayed major updates?

  • thaghost

    “Its Google’s fault,” “no its the manufacturer’s fault,” “no its the carrier’s fault,” “apple never does this,” “be a real man/woman and root your phone.” Whatever, This is a shame no matter how you slice it.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    I keep saying this but I know it will never happen. If only ALL devices were stock Android and had the option to download whatever custom UI each OEM has for their devices (or have it installed and let users take that shit off).

    Would this not help the update process if everything were stock Android with a skin applied via an app???

    That makes too much sense, so of course it won’t happen.

    • SGB101

      I totally agree, the manufactures could still ship the devices with the skins but the you could just uninstall .

      Problem is skins like sense, are tightly woven into the os, I’m using the latest sense and it has some great features. But non of them make me want to keep it over vanilla.

      Once a stable ICS rom available for the one x, it will be installed. The ones available ATM are just to buggy for day to day use. That said its been a few months since I last tried one out.

    • djfrantz

      Google needs to man up and say “THIS is Android. Not the crap you are peddling. If you want to use our operating system on your devices you need to ship it as we deliver it and allow us to push updates as we develop them.” Google really needs to be Apple on this. They need to limit the range of specs for which devices can be officially said to run Android. If the manufacturers want to modify the OS it can no longer be called Android but perhaps Android compatible, like the Kindle Fire. I’m talking out my ass but its the way I see it. Choice is good but too much choice just muddies the field. As it is it seems a lot of devices are at the end of their useful life long before your contract is up.

      • phor11

        I don’t really agree.

        For every few people out there who want the stock android experience are others who buy for example: a droidx because moto’s android tweaks added panoramic functionality to the camera and exchange sync when those features didn’t exist in stock Android. Or a samsung GS3 because they like the tight social network and lifestyle features integration.

        You don’t want to take that sort of thing away from manufacturers who have good ideas and want to put their own stamp on their devices.

        I do agree with you that the market for those who want a stock experience and fast updates is under-served. I think Google should continue allowing manufacturers to do whatever they want with Android, but at the same time work to expand the Nexus program to a few more phones so that we have some hardware options on both sides of the coin (stock vs modded).

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      Stock Android has very little to do with the fragmentation issue. Fragmentation is really caused by hardware. Every time Google updates Android, component makers need to go back and update their drivers for nearly everything.

      This is why even CM has taken nearly 9 months to push out a release candidate. You can’t have a stable version of ICS or JB without running into hardware incompatibilities. Even Google ran into this issue with the Nexus S and its ICS update.

      • userx

        but this just shows, that by having hardware that is incompatible with future updates, and needing driver updates, the base foundation that this system is built on, is heavily flawed from the very, very start.

        google must know this was a huge problem, because their chrome book program is making sure this type of issue doesn’t exist in their laptop’s OS — why would they allow it on their mobile?

        butt fuck poor planning.

    • GerryAttrick

      I’ll go along with that too. There is far too much crap on the phones now. I don’t want half of the stiff on there and it pains me even more that I can’t easily get it off. Plain Android would be fine with me and I’ll load the Browser of my choice and forget about Facebook and Twitter and all the other propriatary bloatware they foist on us.

    • thel0nerang3r

      How fast was the update on the GNex on VZW. What about the updates on the LG G2x?

  • Jimmy_Jo

    I think this whole argument is foolish. Sure we all want the latest versions of Android on our phone but can that be accomplished? For some devices easily. For others not so much. ICS is so much more than Gingerbread was. That’s why most phones have GB. Without newer more powerful phones you can’t run ICS. All the HTC phones before the ONE series would be crippled with ICS (without rooting and tinkering which the OEMs obviously don’t do) The Samsung Phones have ICS. SGS2 and 3 and of course the GNex. I think we need to worry less about version number and more about user experience.

    • http://midweststitch.com ajonrichards

      The iOS upgrade picture isn’t as rosy as you would think, considering that upgrading to iOS 5 on iPhone 3GS’s caused a litany of issues. Although we’d all love to see Android OEMs support their devices endlessly, it’s not reasonably going to happen.
      There’s also no financial incentive for a OEM to update a phone that’s not even on the market anymore. You can still buy an iPhone 3GS on AT&T’s website. My HTC Incredible has long been off the market. Maybe if the market life-cycle of Android phones were a little longer, you’d see the manufacturers investing a little more to keep the software up-to-date.

      • Eric Rossman

        That is a really good point. +1 There is no incentive for devices that are no longer being sold to get updates

        • Steve Goodrich

          Perhaps if we all vowed that if a manufacturer refused to support the device we just spent $200.00 for two years, we would switch manufacturers, it would give them some incentive. Is there a value for building customer loyalty?

          • http://midweststitch.com ajonrichards

            Google’s building this kind of brand loyalty with the Nexus series. You want iOS? Get an iPhone. You want Android? Get a Nexus.

        • Droidfan

          There is no good point to throttling new hardware to provide legacy support to aging hardware technology. Especially in the mobile arena…where, at least for Android phones, hardware specs jump every six months. If OS upgrades are important to you….buy a flagship device and don’t expect more than 2 upgrades over the current OS version.

        • Joshua

          It is a good point but with the shelf life of phones there would never be an upgrade then. I have the Galaxy Note, still no ICS and it’s still being sold, but they are already rumoring the Note II.

    • Tangent

      All HTC phones before the ONE series would be crippled with ICS? O.o Then why did my year old HTC Sensation 4G recently get an OTA update to ICS that it runs beautifully?

      • kazahani

        Obviously because this person knows not of what he speaks.

        With the GPU acceleration that ICS offers, it would actually run BETTER on most older devices than FroYo and Gingerbread do now.

      • Magnolia Man

        if your phone is dual core with a gig of ram and at least a qHD screen (basically every phone released within the last 18 months), there is NO EXCUSE why it can’t be upgraded to ICS/JB

  • TomT

    Is this ICS 11% taking into account the massive pre orders for the Samsung Galaxy S3? With regard to JB, I purchased a Galaxy Nexus last week, just to install JB. After working with JB for 5 days, 4.1 to me is really No Big Deal. I never, ever thought, I would say this but I prefer TouchWiz on the S4 over JB, just my opinion Guys…

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      The numbers only take into account devices which have accessed Google Play within a specific two week period. the way they calculate the numbers is flawed since it is not a true representation of all devices. The majority of people I know with Android phones typically access the market about every other month when they hear about a big new app launch that they may be interested in.

      • Tangent

        But doesn’t Play check for updates on a regular basis automatically, even if it isn’t set to download and install them?

  • bellken

    It is moving in the right direction, I hope ICS gets to over 20% next month.

  • JH

    Any device running android lower than ICS/JB is obsolete.
    The only way of staying up to date is by using Nexus, insted of “knock offs”

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      How are these phones obsolete? They might now have some newer features, but there is nearly nothing that they can’t do.

      • Eric Rossman

        I have been pointing this out to the ICS upgrade anxiety folks for the last nine months; short of chrome, there really are no killer apps that do not currently run on Gingerbread.

        My recent ICS update for my SGS2 (i777) has not brought any significant speed or battery life improvements.

    • sharon92

      I can agree, I mean I can’t say I am surprised.

  • Ardrid

    This is honestly the last major failing of Android. It’s absolutely unacceptable that only 11% of devices have access to ICS. That doesn’t bode well for JB, which is a damn shame given all the work Google has put into it. You very well can’t expect Google Now to take off if only 5% of devices have access to it.

    Something has to be done here. I love the open nature of the OS, but I can’t help but thinking that version consistency and adoption would be less of an issue if Google were a bit more heavy handed. Here’s hoping the manufacturers and carriers get their acts together now that they’ll have access well in advance of public release.

  • spazby

    there is really nothing new here, these updates are taking forever and since i don’t see google pushing manufacturers and carriers to make the crapware optional (app that you can freely install / uninstall) this will continue…

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    I am going to mark my words here: No, the PDK alone will not bring OS updates to Android phones quicker.

    The Android OS update problem is not just a technical problem. It has a lot to do with corporation ego, politics and profit making. It’s pretty safe to say that even if you buy a new mid-range phone that is released today, your chance of seeing a timely update is pretty low than someone who bought a flagship that was released 6 months ago. The PDK is not going to fix that because it’s not a question of whether the OEM can do that or not, but whether it wants to do that or not, and when it wants to do that.

    However, I think the PDK “MAY” brings phones with the latest OS to market quicker. So, you may no longer see phones released with an OS that is 18 months old. Again, this is not because these phones are more capable — it’s simply because OEMs have more incentive to sell us something new (they wouldn’t care if we just throw out our old phones as long as we keep buying new ones.)

    What can Google truly do to fix this problem? First of all, it HAS to admit that it is a problem, wholeheartedly admit it. It is starting to make Android less competitive because even if Android is 1 year more advanced than its competitions, it means nothing — because they will have ample of times to catch up.

    Secondly, starting with Motorola, Google should make sure it updates its own hardware in a timely manner. If Motorola updates faster than anyone, its competitors will try to catch up.

  • skyflakes

    Until about five years ago, people were at peace with the fact that the handset they bought from the store will stay that way until they dump it.

    Now, everyone’s demanding to have their devices updated with new OS, even if the improvements require higher technology or better hardware. And many of those who are complaining sport low-end to mid-range devices.

    Sounds ridiculous to me.

    • Ardrid

      Times and technology change. Five years ago, the majority of consumers were using dumbphones. They were static devices that were largely used to call and text. Smartphones are personal computing devices, where each update builds upon the base and exposes new functionality. Why shouldn’t I expect my computing device to improve and evolve?

      • skyflakes

        Okay, personal computing devices.

        Are you using Windows? We have a family PC at home that we bought in 2004 (with 128MB of RAM and 1.5Ghz Celeron). I doubt it can handle Windows 8 smoothly. It was good enough for XP, but not so much on Vista or 7.

        It’s been many years and average system requirements for common programs have gone way up, and I understand that so I’m not complaining. This is my point.

        • Ardrid

          Can you upgrade your PC? Yes? Then you have no reason to complain. As it stands now, you can’t upgrade your phone’s hardware. That leaves only the software and, though it may surprise some, that very same software barely stresses the hardware we have at our disposal. So, again, why should I not expect my phone’s software to evolve if the hardware is fully capable of supporting that evolution?

          We’re not talking about five year old devices here; we’re talking about devices that are anywhere from 1-3 years old. I don’t believe for a second that the Galaxy S can’t support ICS/JB because the advancements made in each of those respective updates would only make it easier on aging hardware (changes to the CPU governor, GPU acceleration, etc.). We all know what the reality of this situation is: it’s in the manufacturer’s best interest NOT to push OS updates to older devices because it forces consumers to focus on the next shiny thing in order to get access to the latest update. Do any of us really think the Galaxy S II will see JB despite the fact that we all know the hardware is fully capable?

  • Paul Atreides

    This is the song that never ends.

  • Tix

    The ICS update fiasco [my family and I have between ourselves three GB devices and two HC - all "promised" an upgrade and all still "waiting" for the magical upgrade] has made me do something that only a year ago would have seemed blasphemous: went out and bought an iPhone…

    Please don’t tell me about rooting and cooked ROMs – been there done that (too many times) – none of them has all the features or the stability of the OEM OS.

    Way to go Google… Wrote my first Linux kernel patches 16 years ago and now you made me go and sleep with the enemy… At least it’s UNIX based…

  • Andrew Jones

    Do people ever actually sit back and think about what they are writing before they write it?
    There are 400 million Android devices out there – this was confirmed at I/O.
    There are 11% of devices with ICS on them.
    11% of 400 million is 44 million.

    Yes – there are 44 million ICS devices out there.
    When you consider that the HTC One X was the first real device released with ICS only in March.

    Yes the Galaxy Nexus was released with ICS last/this year – but the only people who were buying it were people who had the have the next big thing – the majority of the civilised world operates with contracts and those contracts last between 18 months and 24 months.

    My first phone was the HTC Desire, I drooled over all sorts of other Android phones being released after the Desire – but I was stuck until this year – when I could upgrade to the HTC One X. The number of people who can actually afford to go out and buy the latest phone just because it is new – is actually a very very small number in percentage terms – especially when compared to the total number of Android devices.

  • Droid Fan

    Gingerbread started its general release about this time last year. So ICS is starting its general release about a year after GB. Google is releasing Jelly Bean much earlier…4 months or so…than GB. That means Jelly Bean will probably be in general release in less than a year from GB release. Before you all get your panties in a bunch…I know that GB source code released last fall. But it has always been the case that OEMS and carriers take 4 to 6 months to start getting the latest version out into general release. So be glad JB is coming out early.

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    Not to sound selfish, but as long as my nexus has the latest i do not care about the rest. Always make the best investment for you :)

  • perlowin

    I’m really glad that Google has got Jelly Bean out, but my [almost] state of the art Galaxy SII from Sprint is still running Ginger Bread 2.3.6! Now I’m 2 versions behind! I think Sprint is the only carrier who hasn’t updated the SII to ICS!!! Is it REALLY that hard to update their software? If it is, they need to rethink their architecture to streamline it.

    With all that ranting, I am happy with my phone and it’s software, but there are some features in Jelly Bean that I’ve waited for, such as the smoother scrolling. This has been my 1 pet peeve ever since I moved to the Android platform. But it looks like I’m gonna have to get an SIII in order to get it. Hmmm, maybe that’s Sprint’s strategy and I’m just one of their suckers!

  • DriodRocka

    A whole lotta stale gingerbread

  • jamal adam

    This took 3/4ths of a year just to get to 11%, that’s pathetic. Carriers and manufacturers can do a lot better but for them it is more profitable if customers buy a new smartphone that has ICS or Jelly Bean than update it. Makes sense but they need to realize that this is both a software and hardware tech environment and lagging on software updates does not help them achieve anything except anger from customers and I thought they were supposed to please their customers. At the end of the day it is all about that money. Now, if they decided to update smartphones quicker who knows, they might have more loyal customers.

  • Scott

    Nothing will change. Carriers use new OS versions to sell new phones. There’s little incentive to spend time and resources upgrading older smartphones and keeping customers happy with their current smartphone a while longer.

    Root and install a custom ROM or buy a Nexus, otherwise you’re at the mercy of your carrier, which means you’ll likely be part of the 89%…9-12months behind the curve.

  • Mix

    I am excited to make the move over to Android from BlackBerry but, in all honesty, this “latest firmware might never come to you” deal that this post is all about is the only thing that I am worried about from the move over.

    At least I know the Galaxy S3 will get 4.1 this year but what about the next version?

  • Simon Pedersen

    ICS have been out for 8 months (?) and yet I’m still stuck with ye olde Gingerbread.
    It is disgusting that the OEM’s are allowed to push back update dates so long!

    I know that Google can’t enforce updates per say, but this fragmentation is getting out of hand.

  • Nathan D.

    Not surprising, seeing the same report for gingerbread when it came out.

  • cb2000a

    Samsung, the company that supplies the majority of Android devices, has a dismal record of updating their phones OS. The Note should have released with ICS when it was available for ATT. At this point they might as well scrap ICS for the Note and work on a JB release in the next couple of months.

  • Simon Pedersen

    If it takes months for the OEM’s to port new Android versions to their devices, there is something seriously wrong with the process or they need more coders.

    Either way, they are doing an awful job…

  • jonbze

    I have started a petition to the cell phone companies and manufacturers to start building stock android phones and put their skins on the android market if they want that extra cash. Please, if you are tired of the skins, sign my petition and help spread it on twitter and facebook. http://www.change.org/petitions/t-mobile-develop-phones-without-custom-skins-or-pre-installed-3rd-party-apps

  • Johnathan Prochaska

    I just got ICS on my Samsung Galaxy S2 last Thursday or so from AT&T. I love the update and am digging the style that Google is heading towards. I’m okay with this being the furthest my phone will update and am excited to see what else will come out between now and my next upgrade time (October 2013). Bring it on Google.

  • Glenbot3000

    Updates have to be THE most complained about thing on any Android handset. We don’t see the likes of Apple’s Antennagate because if one handset flops, there’s always another that’s just as good to fill its boots. Surely it’s only time before at least one OEM give consumers what they want…

  • Glenbot3000

    Updates have to be THE most complained about thing on any Android handset. We don’t see the likes of Apple’s Antennagate because if one handset flops, there’s always another that’s just as good to fill its boots. Surely it’s only time before at least one OEM gives consumers what they want…

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  • friendflintstone

    Holding out my upgrade for three more years, the Galaxy S6 – Octocore LTE with Android 5.1 Lemon Meringue.

  • Randy W

    Just Root your phone and run whatever you want.