Android version distribution: Nougat now reaching the 10% mark
Posted by ishubhamsingh
Every month Google releases updated Android distribution numbers, and every month we get to see just how slowly the latest version has been rolling out to devices. Last month, Android Nougat began picking up steam, jumping up from 4.9% to 7.1% from April to May. It looks like this month is no different, with the latest distribution numbers revealing that Nougat is now installed on 9.5% of all active Android devices – a sizeable 2.4-percent increase over last month’s numbers.
That doesn’t sound like a ton of progress, but given the rate at which these numbers usually increase, it actually is. Not only are manufacturers launching new devices running the latest version of Android, OEMs are also doing a pretty good job at updating their older devices to Nougat. Just this past month we saw Nougat roll out to the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe, the Moto X Force in Latin America, the unlocked LG G5 in the US, and the HTC One M9 on AT&T.
Plus, we’re officially in flagship smartphone season. The Galaxy S8 and LG G6 are here, and people around the world have been ditching their older smartphones (which are running older versions of Android) for these new devices (which, coincidentally, are running Android Nougat out of the box).
There’s more to this chart than Nougat, though. Let’s take a look at some of the other install numbers:
Oddly enough, Android 6.0 Marshmallow has taken up 31.2% of the Android space for three months running. In the meantime, Android Lollipop has dropped behind Marshmallow in total install numbers, dropping from 32% to 30.8% this month.
Why have Lollipop’s numbers gone down while Marshmallow’s have stayed the same?
But why have Lollipop’s numbers gone down while Marshmallow’s have stayed the same? There’s a very good reason for that; people are upgrading from Lollipop devices to Nougat devices. It’s not often OEMs leapfrog over major versions of Android (though it’s not unheard of), and I personally haven’t heard of any devices being upgraded from Lollipop to Nougat (skipping Marshmallow along the way).
Android 4.4 KitKat saw a .7% drop to 18.1% this month, as well.
A bit more news on the Nougat front: Android Nougat’s 9.5% has surpassed Android Jelly Bean, with the older OS version now being installed on 8.8% of all devices (down from 9.1% last month).
And finally, we have Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread – two Android versions that refuse to die. Ice Cream Sandwich has remained at .8% this month, while Gingerbread, which miraculously made a slight comeback in May, has dropped from 1% to .8%. Let’s hope that trend continues.
If you take a good look at the graph below, you’ll see that initially, each new version of Android is hitting fewer devices and doing so in a slower fashion. Why is that? It’s possible OEMs are taking their time at rolling out updates, which would explain the weaker curve in the graph. Another thing to consider is that several major OEMs have been putting out fewer devices each year and, as we’ve been reporting for a while now, the smartphone market generally has plateaued. That means fewer new phones in the wild.
People are also holding onto their phones for longer periods of time, which means the number of active devices running older versions of Android stays high. And while this isn’t often the case, there are still Android devices launching without the latest version of Android out of the box, attributable to the rise of lower cost Chinese devices and increased market growth in developing countries.
The increased rate of release for major Android versions is probably the major reason for the shape of the graph above, however. A quick history lesson should illustrate the point well enough: Jelly Bean was out for about 16 months before KitKat arrived. KitKat stuck around for slightly over a year followed by Lollipop which just scraped past 11 months before Marshmallow hit the scene. Then Marshmallow itself was only out for ten and a half months before Nougat showed up in mid-August. Shorter OS version shelf lives equal lower market penetration.
It’s also worth pointing out that being on the latest version of Android isn’t the most important thing nowadays. With Play Services, for instance, Google can push out important updates to just about every Android device without the need to bake it into Android (thus requiring an entire software update). Plus, a good amount of OEMs have been focusing on rolling out the latest Android security patches to their devices, which means Android phones aren’t as vulnerable to attacks as they once were.
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