Feb 05 AT 7:22 PM Dustin Earley 42 Comments

January distribution numbers are in, modern Android usage on the rise


The latest platform distribution numbers for January 2013 have been made available by Google, and modern Android is making up ground in the race to take the biggest piece of the pie. For now, Gingerbread is dominating the usage charts, but Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean are coming up quick.

According to the latest platform distribution numbers from Google, Gingerbread, Android 2.3, while still maintaining the largest usage numbers, is slipping. Modern Android, 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2, is there to pick up the slack.

The numbers from Google show Gingerbread with a total of 45.6 percent of distribution. ICS and Jelly Bean now hold a combined 42.6 percent. With a difference of only 3 percent, there’s good reason to believe that by the end of summer, modern Android will have well eclipsed anything below 4.x.

Android distribution has been a target of attack from naysayers since the very beginning. For right now, it appears Google is headed in the right direction. If Google releases Key Lime Pie at I/O this May though, we could see things take a turn for the worse.

Source: Google

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • nikhilverma

    of course, modern android ir on the rise.

    • 88Anna88

      Dunno, i have a better iPhone 5 with 6.1 version, i guess? Apple is far ahead it seems. Im happy with my iPhone i wont trade it for an obviously subpar android phone. I heard their android ipad isnt as good as Apple’s neither. I LOVE my iPhone.
      Bye, Anna

      • Simon Holland Flarup

        I know you won’t see, Read or respond on this, but… android IPAD WTF are you talking about. Last time i heard someone say that was some children in an Electronic shop. “See the Android Ipad is much smaller that this.” or something like that. I think they where in 3th grade. REALLY, even my mom knows there i nothing called an android iPad, and she can’t tell the different between Apple, Android and Microsoft (Tablets). Kind of tired you non-clever (stupid) people, on android fan-sites. – Please just stop telling HOW much you love your iDevices (iShit)

        • da gopher state

          dont be no cloud on a sunny day!

        • Co1e

          Thirth grade was the best!

  • Ben

    I’m not trying to sound like a troll but google or the manufactures need to gain control of software updates like apple. This is just laughable. iOS 6.1 was on 25% of iOS devices in the first few days if not the first day alone. How long has android 4.1 been out? It’s not much to be proud of the features of android if no one has them.

    • Jorge Eslava

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I would like to know where you got that information from.


      Thats not a fair comparison. Apple and Google have vastly different distribution models. Apple has a single line of devices for which they have complete control. Google gives away its OS for free to any manufacturer and trades off control for market share. I think its pretty fair to say both have been extremely successful and is tough to say one is definitively better than the other. They are just different.

      If you want a fair comparison, compare early adoption of iOS to early adoption of Android releases on Nexus products. My guess is Nexus adoption is much higher than early iOS adoption.

      Now, you say that the adoption of Android 4.0+ is laughable, but what is not laughable is Android’s market share which is somewhere above 60% i believe. That is the trade off google makes between control and market share. But for the same reasons, its not fair to say Android is more successful that iOS because of simply because market share. they are completely different distribution models.

      So this is just a long winded response to say its a horrendous comparison to say the adoption rate of new Android releases is laughable compared to iOS. Its not an apples to apples comparison.

      • Adnoxaei

        It may not be ‘fair’, but life isn’t ‘fair’. The different models come with different perks and down-sides. Apple controls everything and the users don’t get many hardware choices, but updates are swift when released. Google has a lot less control, so the users get amazing hardware and feature selection, but updates are slow to get a foothold, painfully slow for manufacturers to skin and test, and just flat out don’t happen for many devices. Some better coordination between Google, OEMs, and carriers could reduce these problems for Android and frankly I think Google/OEMs/Carriers should stay in hot water over fragmentation and updates until we can see the past year’s devices updated within a month or two of a new version release. 4.0 became ‘available’ in November of 2011. Verizon still sells Four Android 2.3 smartphones. Two of those smartphones came out around when 4.0 was announced. I think that is a bit ridiculous and terrible for Android as an ecosystem. I love Android and definitely think this a front that needs improvement.


          What makes fragmentation a problem? I’m not denying it exists as evidenced by this post. I just question whether it is a problem. What harm is it doing? Is Android not accomplishing exactly what Google set out for it to accomplish? How would it be more successful if there was less fragmentation? Are people switching to other platforms because of it? How does fragmentation take away from the user experience for each individual regardless of whether they are on 2.3 or 4.2?

          • wyatt

            the short answer is… it barely detracts.

      • Ben

        I would disagree that openness is why android sells well. You care about openness. I care about openness. Your aunt who doesn’t know anything about computers who is an average consumer doesn’t give a crap about openness. Android has market share because it is on hundreds of devices most of which are free or cheap.

      • Ben

        I would love to see some numbers on nexus uptake. And I bet you are right about being higher than iOS because iOS is owned by techies and normal people alike. Where as I feel a majority of nexus owners are techies who would be excited for the next release.


          Indeed. Those are my thoughts too, I had started to write that in the earlier post, just didn’t want to make it longer than it was. But certainly iPhone and unlocked Nexus phones have totally different target markets which should lead to higher early adoption rates. But I have no actual evidence to support that claim. Just a hunch.

      • inchhigh5137

        Amen to that!

      • Sameer

        You looks very intelligent and seems knowledgeable, But i am surprise why you think that above article compare iOS and Android. here is the comparison among android version only. But i admit your knowledge are correct and respectable but unrelated

    • John Patrick

      In many ways I echo your sentiment. But the real culprits in this narrative are not Google and not even the device OEMs. They are the carriers. Verizon has become the poster-child of the issue with their laughably inept bungling of the Galaxy Nexus(probably more laughable if you don’t own one). So much so that I think that it is – at least in part why the Nexus 4 is as ‘Carrier-neutral’ as one can get these days by using GSM instead of CDMA/LTE.

      • Ben

        That’s why I was saying google or manufactures need to gain control. What I meant was gain from careers. Like Samsung is rumored to be doing.

    • Ste ven

      If you want the newest android updates you have to get a nexus. My galaxy nexus may be older but has 4.2.1 and I can’t wait for key lime pie. The save device keeps feeling like new. VZ/ATt etc want you to buy a new phone to get the latest os so they don’t have incentive to update fast. Some folks, mainly phandroids that frequent blood, wavy the latest and greatest every year. I’ve spoken to various people I seev with android phones ace they have no idea what version they have and never heard of something called gingerbread or ice cream sandwich

    • aranea

      I think the main question here what does ios update mean! As far as I know an older phone’s ios version number can increase but that doesn’t mean it gains new functions that the new ios version brings. For example an iphone 4 can be running the latest version of ios but it won’t get siri despite it’s capable.

      On the other hand, when an android phone receives an upgraded version it gets all the improvements as long as hardware allows it.

      I think what apple does is to push an update with minor improvements in some cases to older phones that may not mean actually an upgrade but the version number changes. So in the end it may look like there is less fragmentation but in reality there is.

    • Sameer

      But i am surprise why you think that above article compare iOS and Android. here is the comparison among android version only.

    • Simon Holland Flarup

      IOS is a closed system, while android is an open one, and due to the heavy, UI from Samsung, HTC and others, it will take some time, but if they could cut down their UI so you don’t have unnecessary function, or just build them right intro Android, we would all have android much faster. When that’s been said, android has 100 of different devices, and not all of them is mid-high end,so they can’t all be supported with like project butter. In the feature I think it would be fair if each android phone gets at least 2 major updates, e.g Galaxy 3 start from ICS to JB to KLP (Key Lime pie)

  • Federal Bureau of Fragmentation (FBF)

    WOW thats a lot of fragmentation!!!!!!!!!!

  • uknowme

    Happy to say I’m running Jellybean. I know it sucks everybody isn’t there yet. I also know the majority of users don’t root. I also know a lot of people don’t upgrade until they are at the 2 year mark. So I understand where these numbers come from.

    • nottylarka


  • Monk

    I bet that key lime pie will be named 4.3 or 4.5 instead of 5.0 just to look better in the android distribution %. That way 4.X will have more than 50% share…

  • jagannath

    is there any update for samsung galaxy ace duos S6802 running gingerbread ???

  • donger

    Go Android.

  • mattcoz

    Why would releasing Key Lime Pie make this worse? Will people start downgrading to 2.3?

    • Sean

      By adding yet another version into the mix of devices that are already out there. I personally don’t really care about fragmentation and I think it is more of a non-problem that was invented by the press. I am a developer and it can be tricky writing stuff that will fit on multiple screen sizes/resolutions, but hey, if you don’t like solving problems, then you shouldn’t be a programmer.

      The downside is when companies select to not develop for a platform because of real or perceived fragmentation or ‘open-ness’ issues. Take Day’s Of Wonder, Ticket to Ride game; we will likely never see an Android version because the management has been told that the fragmentation problem would make it too expensive to develop and not provide a level of quality that they want (ie. screen too small/too low resolution – they blame the developer / company, not the device they hold in their hand).

  • shadhussain

    Must we continue to have this android distribution and “fragmentation” debate once a quarter? It’s like a broken record that just won’t stop screeching.

    Like someone said earlier in this thread, this is the very model of Android. It is what it is and people simply buy what works for them. My wife is perfectly happy with her second-hand HTC G2 running GB2.3, I have a hacked Android tv Gbox with ICS3.1, a Transformer Prime with JB4.1, a Nexus4 with JB4.2. All of them have their roles and do their jobs optimally.

    You don’t need to lose sleep for not having JB4.2 on *every* single Android device.

  • Pjamies

    I just don’t like hearing about all the new versions of Android software with added features that I will never be able to use with my current phone, because some A$$ at Samsung/LG/HTC or Carrier decides they do not want to roll it out! That’s what pisses me off!!
    Yes, I know that most normal users could not care if they have access to the latest version of Google Now, or any of the other great features that Android 4.2 includes, but I would like to be given the choice (at least).
    Yes, I could have bought an unlocked Nexus phone for $$$, but I don’t have hundreds of $$ to buy new phones and have to use the 3yr contract method to make the purchase reasonable (like most users).
    I have a friend with a GN, and he is still on 4.1, so I am not sure that having a unlocked Nexus phone actually = constant updates…
    I live in Toronto, Canada, so maybe Google does not support auto-updates outside the US??
    Maybe it is a FCC issue ..
    Anyways my next phone will be an unlocked Nexus device, as at least I have a better chance of getting updates than through a non-unlocked device!

    Last thought is that, most users do not care if they get updates, because they do not realize what the updates include. Bug fixes, features, a more secure OS ..etc
    If someone was to describe what they could have if they upgraded, chances are they would!!

    • Sean

      The manufacturers are kind of caught between a rock and hard place on this. I think the devs working for them really _want_ to update the handsets to the latest and greatest, but from a business perspective it just doesn’t make sense putting money into the development for a handset that is at or near ‘end of life’ (marketing-wise, not user-wise).

      It is frustrating, but it is a common model. If you have a car w/ a nav system, you won’t get many (if any) map updates to your system; even if you wanted to pay for it. It just doesn’t make fiscal sense to do it.

      So, to get the latest and greatest, we get the opportunity to pay a premium for being first out of the gate if we want to. The other option, is for the release to trickle to near stop while everyone waits for everyone to catch up. That would be much worse than ‘fragmentation’.

    • shadhussain

      @pjamies, i live in TO myself and bought the N1 when it came out in ’10 directly from google. i had no update issues until the hardware just couldn’t keep up with ICS demands. i have friends with the Nex-S and GNex who are on JB4.1. I have have however heard that certain variants of the GNex were carrier dependent.

      i think it’s fair to suggest that the android update system is complicated and broken. but in the same breath, it’s fair to assume that ppl who care and are aware about android’s newest and greatest will do their research to buy the best phones out there that meet their requirements. i.e., buy your next phone from the play store >> best chance at updates for 2 years.

      in terms of buying subsidized and unsubsidized in Canada, buying outright is cheaper in the long run. If you consider 2-yr as long term for 16gb N4 and compare:

      @ smaller providers: $359 (outright) + 24 mo x $35 (unlimited everything plan – wait for monthly promo) = $1199

      @Big3: $100(contract) + 24 mo x $60 (unlimited talk+text, 1 gb data only) = $1540

  • rivera618

    people need to stop getting their panties in a bunch over this. there is already a solution for people that want to make sure they run the latest and greatest version of Android, it’s called the Nexus program.
    there is a price to be paid for getting those heavily subsidized phones. the carriers don’t have any real incentive to update these devices. they want you to continue signing 2 year deals to get whatever the latest device is, which given that Android seems major updates once a year, guarantee your device will be running an old version of the OS before your contract is up.
    buy a nexus device, pay full price up front, get a cheaper wireless plan, and get the latest and greatest OS shortly after it is announced. That’s what I do and could not be happier

  • Iris
  • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

    It’s nice to see IceCream Sandwich having a better piece of the Android pie. Manufacturers contributed to this by releasing the updates. I hope to be running JellyBean on my Evo 3D soon (I already have it on my Transformer TF300TG). I still don’t get it why people downgrade to Gingerbread, ICS and JellyBean are better with every update.

  • Ste ven

    I don’t think calculating % of users based on access ti Google Play doesn’t seem accurate. Many people aren’t downloading apps every week, especially if they don’t have a new phone. You can have 4.x and not be downloading apps. I know many who don’t and many people even on android don’t use Google for music

  • Nathan D.

    At Least we are making some progress On the Android version

  • AQ
  • madsalad

    I wonder if Google will ever change their agreements with OEMs and carriers to say, “Here’s what you get and you can no longer brand it, change it, period” in order to start having timely, coordinated rollouts among all carriers, etc… Google got their foot in the door by allowing Android to be changed/mutated at the carriers’ whims but maybe now it’s time to rein it in a little?

    In the end, it is what it is. Most people who don’t care about having top-of-the-line or “the new hotness” don’t care that they are running Gingerbread. Those are the people who don’t even know it’s called “Gingerbread” or might be referring to all Android-based phones as “Galaxy” phones…