Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean adoption surging, Gingerbread waning
Android version 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich) and versions 4.1 and 4.2 (both nicknamed Jelly Bean), the most recent overhauls of the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) mobile operating system, experienced significant increases in user adoption during the final weeks of 2012 and now power close to 40 percent of all Android devices worldwide.
As of Jan. 3, Ice Cream Sandwich--publicly released in October 2011--powers 29.1 percent of all Android devices accessing the Google Play marketplace, up from 27.5 percent in December, according to the Android Developers Dashboard. Nine percent of Android devices now run Jelly Bean 4.1 (which rolled out in July 2012), compared to 5.9 percent a month ago; another 1.2 percent run Jelly Bean 4.2, up from 0.4 percent. Google issued Jelly Bean 4.2 in mid-November.
The combined growth of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean are eroding the longstanding platform dominance of Android 2.3, dubbed Gingerbread, which first launched in December 2010. Gingerbread still leads all Android versions at 47.6 percent distribution, although that number is down from 50.8 percent last month. Android 2.2, or Froyo, still powers 9 percent of devices close to three years after its original release.
As of mid-December, Google is activating new Android devices at a rate in excess of 1.3 million per day. The operating system accounts for 68.3 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, according to market intelligence firm IDC. While the openness of the Android platform is the catalyst fueling its phenomenal growth, carrier customizations are commonly cited as a culprit behind the slow pace of Android OS upgrades and the platform fragmentation that results.
In October, Google-owned Motorola Mobility confirmed it is not shipping the unaltered, stock version of Android on its smartphones because of carrier demands to customize the mobile operating system to their own specifications. "Our partners sometimes want customizations," said Motorola Senior Vice President, Product Rick Osterloh. "Our interest is to make it as close to Android as possible and generally we negotiate somewhere in the middle."
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