Why Each New Version of Android Takes Longer to Adopt

It’s nothing new; the wait for Android updates has always plagued Android users. For users who care enough to follow Android update announcements, it has become a sweet-bitter-sweet/bitter experience. First, Google announces and shows off the new Android OS. Then, Android users have to wait months and months on end before they even know if their current handset will support the update. Finally, in the event that your handset is getting the update, we rejoice only to find that a new Android version has been announced. It’s a frustrating occurrence that seems to be happening more often than anyone would like.

How Long Does it Actually Take?

Since the conception of Android 1.0 back in September 2008, Android has seen a total of 8 major updates in just 4 years. In 2009, Android saw half of its updates alone. Starting in 2010, Android has averaged out two major updates per year. The problem is that, with this data alone, we still don’t have a time rate for how long it actually takes for devices to receive these updates. That’s where AndroidPolice’s Ron Amadeo comes in.

Amadeo did a great thing for the entire Android community, and it is important that his work not go overlooked. Amadeo was able to stitch together the length it took for any particular Android OS version to get adopted into the ecosystem. There’s a lot of linguistics as to how he got this data together. If interested, check out his article: “The Big Android Chart™: A Definitive History of Android Version Adoption”.

Here’s the chart:

The-Big-Android-Chart

The Big Android Chart

Since the data does not show the full adoption periods for Android versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0.1, we cannot include them in our average adaptation rate. Here is the adoption rate for each individual Android release since 2.0.1:

Since the data does not show the full adoption periods for Android versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0.1, we cannot include them in our average adaptation rate. Here is the adoption rate for each individual Android release since 2.0.1:

  • Android 2.1: Released March 15th, overtakes 2.0.1 on April 15th,2010 and has a 1 month adoption rate.
  • Android 2.2: Released May 20th, overtakes 2.1 on December 1st,2010 and has a 6.5 month adoption rate.
  • Android 2.3: Released December 6th, overtakes 2.2 on November 11th, 2011 and has an 11 month adoption rate.

Although there were two major Android updates after 2.3, the adoption rate has been at a standstill since November 11th 2011 until the time that this article was posted. That means that Android versions 3.x and 4.x are yet to overtake 2.3, making 2.3 the most popular Android OS version out there.

The saddest part about this data is that by the time Android 2.2 become more popular than it’s predecessor, Android 2.3 would arrive just a month later and would not over take Android 2.2 for almost a whole year. No matter how much of a die hard Android fan you are, this must frustrate you to the core.

There’s a perfectly good explanation for this.

According to The Big Android Chart, every new Android OS version has taken a longer time to become more popular than the previous Android OS version. Apart from the more common and understood explanations like fragmentation, the process for distributing updates, and a multitude of devices running different hardware, there is a better explanation at play: the ever expanding ecosystem.

A recent report from Nielson shows that 50 percent of the phone market consists of smartphones, and of that 50 percent of smartphone users, Android makes up 50 percent of those handsets. What does all that mean? Android is currently expanding in an already expanding market.

With that in mind, of course it will take longer for Android to adopt new versions because there are more handsets to put them on. More so when manufactures release phones with older operating systems. The world harps on and on, but the fragmentation present in Android is a small matter to deal with if you know what your buying and who your buying from.

About the author

Tristan Thomas

Currently studying Information Technology at Georgia Southern University, Tristan uses Tech Analyzer as a venting outlet for how he interprets the technological world around him.

Leave a Comment