Preston Gralla

Only 0.4% of Android users have version 2.3, Gingerbread. Here's why it doesn't matter.

January 19, 2011 5:01 PM EST

Data posted on the Android developers forum shows that a mere 0.4% of all Android users are using the latest version of Android, 2.3, called Gingerbread. This adds to the claims of those that say Android fragmentation is a serious problem. Here's why they're wrong.

As you can see in the chart taken from the site, below, the majority of Android users have Android 2.2 installed.

Android version breakdown 

Here's the breakdown, according the the Android developer's forum:

  • Android 1.5 4.7%
  • Android 1.6 7.9%
  • Android 2.1 35.2%
  • Android 2.2 51.8%
  • Android 2.3 0.4%
Those numbers are based on visitors to the Android Market for two weeks, ending January 4.

Unlike with Windows or Mac OS X, users can't install Android updates; instead, they have to wait for their phone manufacturers to deliver it to them over the air. Manufacturers determine their own schedules for operating system updates. In some instances, they decide it's not worth their while to update older phone models. In other instances, because they customize the Android interface, it takes them quite a while to build the new update for each phone. That's why there are often lengthy delays in getting operating system updates, and why not all phones get those updates.

If you're the kind of person who absolutely must have the latest version of an operating system soon after it's released, this can be exceedingly frustrating. Put me in that category. If you're an Android owner, you may be in it as well.

But for the vast majority of users, it simply doesn't matter. Whatever operating system is on the smartphone they buy is the operating system they're used to. They don't anxiously await updates that may well give them absolutely nothing they're interested in. In fact, if an updated operating system is different than what they're used to, they may not be particularly happy with it.

Beyond that, it doesn't matter that a phone from one manufacturer runs one version of Android, while a phone from another runs a later version. Again, all that matters is that people are satisfied with the operating system on their phone, not whether it's an older or newer operating system than that found on a phone they don't own.

So yes, if you're like me, you can't wait until your smartphone finally gets updated with Gingerbread. But from Google's business perspective, fragmentation simply doesn't matter.