Year-old Android 5 Lollipop on 33% of Google Play users, but only 20% of devices in China

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2016
Google's ability to distribute new Android updates has always lagged far behind Apple's iOS, but the situation is even worse in China, where the "Lollipop" version 5.x, introduced in 2014 alongside iOS 8, has only reached about a fifth of all devices, two thirds the distribution it has achieved elsewhere.


Source: Google


Every few weeks, Google reports an updated version mix of "all the devices that visited the Google Play Store in the prior 7 days." It depicts the breakdown for each major version as a percentage and depicts the numbers in a pie chart (similar to the one above on the left).

Pie charts are typically selected to obscure the differences between different slices of a given pie. Despite this flattering portrayal, Google Play's Android version pie chart still makes it clear that only a tiny shard the active installed base of Android users are using the latest Marshmallow release, in stark contrast to Apple's similarly new iOS 9, which has already reached 75 percent of the installed base.

Going back another year, just under a third of Google Play users are on 5.0 Lollipop. Travel back another year to the 2013 vintage of iOS 7, and Android 4.4 KitKat sits on 36 percent, despite its security issues. Go back another year to the days of iOS 6, and some version of Jelly Bean (introduced summer 2012) sits on another 25 percent of active Google Play user's devices.

When you move the data from a pie to a column chart (shown above right), it further emphasizes just how old Android software really is in the wild, and the very difficult time Google has in solving the increasing issue of OS level fragmentation.

One of the bigger issues is that Android's licensees and mobile carriers often see distributing updates as a low priority because they have no profit incentive to do so. If anything, the preparing, testing and delivery of updates costs money and other resources and offers users a disincentive against paying to upgrade to a new phone or other device.

Even slower OS updates in the world's largest smartphone market



However, Google Play only represents users from one of the two largest smartphone markets in the world. Because all of Google's software services are blocked in mainland China, users in that massive market (currently the world's largest) are distributed between a series of third party download stores run by search engines, phone carriers and other vendors.

Determined users in China can work around the national firewall that blocks access to Google Play, but that default barrier has left Google with access to only around 5 percent of the smartphone population, a position outside of the top 20 Android download stores, according to AppInChina.

Google Play reportedly hopes to officially reenter China this year, but that will require battling Baidu, "China's Google," for attention, along with other established stores who have no intention of giving their market share away. That includes popular stores operated by social networks such as Tencent and the largest independent downloads store, 360 Mobile Assistant.

Google will also face the uphill challenge of wresting users away from its licensees' own stores, such as those operated by Xiaomi, Huawei, Meizu and Lenovo (which those hardware makers count on to make up for minimal profits on hardware sales), as well as State-owned mobile carriers who operate their own Android stores, such as China Unicom and China Telecom.

On top of the security issues related to "side-loading" stores that often cater to pirated apps and are full of aggressive malware and pervasive spyware schemes, Android users in China are also even less likely to get timely updates for their operating system.

Android 5.0-5.1.1 is running on approximately 20% of all Android devices in China. Smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, etc.

-- Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


According to analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies on Twitter, "Android 5.0-5.1.1 is running on approximately 20% of all Android devices in China."

In addition to reporting on China, Bajarin is also currently conducting a survey of Fitbit, Apple Watch and other smartwatch users in conjunction with Wristly.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    Google just needs to copy Apple and give users a daily pop-up to upgrade the OS that you cannot dismiss, only snooze for 24 hours.  That would certainly improve adoption rates
    techlover
  • Reply 2 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,390member
    And because Android users have zero expectations and know their phones are crap, the manufacturers and Google can get away with it.

    The Malware/Virus community loves Android!
    calichiamacky the mackyiqatedolkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 37
    Google just needs to copy Apple and give users a daily pop-up to upgrade the OS that you cannot dismiss, only snooze for 24 hours.  That would certainly improve adoption rates
    How would giving users a pop up message asking them to update to an OS that's not available for their phone improve adoption rates?

    or were you just trying to take a dig at Apple because you find those messages anoying? Because if you don't like being reminded to update your OS you should just go with Android and then it wouldn't even be an option. 
    calibrakkennetmagepropod
  • Reply 4 of 37
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Yet broke/dumb fandroids will regurgitate the latest quibble about the current iOS release while they themselves use 2+ year old software.
    edited January 2016 stevielolliver
  • Reply 5 of 37

    Google just needs to copy Apple and give users a daily pop-up to upgrade the OS that you cannot dismiss, only snooze for 24 hours.  That would certainly improve adoption rates
    It's not up to Google though. The manufacturers and carriers decide when, or if, your phone will get the update.
    edited January 2016 brakkenmacky the mackysingularitycornchip
  • Reply 6 of 37
    I think we will look back at 2015 as the year when IOS effectively won the war on the premium phone segment market.

    Android remain king of the lower spheres, but Apple will slowly and steadily take a bit more of the premium slice every year.

    This is what Tim Cook was referring to during the analyst call. They will continue to grow even in a mature market.
    cornchiplolliver
  • Reply 7 of 37
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 676member
    Hahaha - and the US govt is about to remove encryption so its tech industry can be just like china's. Yeah, good job. 
  • Reply 8 of 37
    xbitxbit Posts: 224member
    No mention that Google offers Android API updates separately from OS updates these days?
    macky the mackysingularitystevie
  • Reply 9 of 37
    Hardly surprising when most of the 'Android' phones sold in China aren't actually Android. They are forks for which Google has no responsibility or control for.
    netmagecornchip
  • Reply 10 of 37
    xbit said:
    No mention that Google offers Android API updates separately from OS updates these days?
    Most 'Android' phones sold in China aren't actually Android and don't have the Google apps
    singularitycornchip
  • Reply 11 of 37
    Google just needs to copy Apple and give users a daily pop-up to upgrade the OS that you cannot dismiss, only snooze for 24 hours.  That would certainly improve adoption rates
    Android phones in China are nothing to do with Google
    singularity
  • Reply 12 of 37
    sflocal said:
    And because Android users have zero expectations and know their phones are crap, the manufacturers and Google can get away with it.

    The Malware/Virus community loves Android!
    Yeah, any mention of Android needs to include the adjectives, "Steaming pile", included.

    Besides, the Android hardware is often about ready to flip into deceleration to preserve itself from overheating. How could it survive the extra load of an OS upgrade? 

    After years of feeling like an Apple apologist, it's nice to see Apple products leading the field in all ways possible.
    lolliver
  • Reply 13 of 37
    I'd guess that the numbers are actually worse than reported.  Google is reporting the OS versions of phones that visited the Google Play store.  Are people with the most obsolete phones more or less likely to be visiting the Google Play store than people with new phones?  I'd argue that people with new phones are much more likely to visit that store.
    drunkzombielolliver
  • Reply 14 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    williamh said:
    I'd guess that the numbers are actually worse than reported.  Google is reporting the OS versions of phones that visited the Google Play store.  Are people with the most obsolete phones more or less likely to be visiting the Google Play store than people with new phones?  I'd argue that people with new phones are much more likely to visit that store.
    Aren't Apple's iOS version adoption rates based on App Store visits too? I thought they were but not entirely certain. 
    stevie
  • Reply 15 of 37
    There were a couple key points made.  Carriers often decide when and if updates are installed.  Also most of the time phones are not capable of running the newer OS so they do not have an option.
    cornchipchia
  • Reply 16 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    There were a couple key points made.  Carriers often decide when and if updates are installed.  Also most of the time phones are not capable of running the newer OS so they do not have an option.
    The first point is correct. Google made the timely updates available but because most OEM's then skin it for their own custom look, and (generally useless IMO) carrier-added "special features" it cannot be directly rolled out. The OEM's have to modify it and then the carriers have to test it with their bloatware add-ons too. To often it's not worth the effort for one or both of them. They'd rather just sell someone another phone for obvious business reasons. 

    Point 2? Not so much IMHO. If you want to load the latest version of Android on a two year old phone and your carrier/OEM didn't offer it themselves there's likely a way to do so if it's all that important. But as someone mentioned earlier Google has de-bundled many of the stock features from the OS itself over the past couple of years so that owners of even very old smartphones can still get the feature enhancements that would normally have come only with a full OS update. Even security updates are now being delivered to many handsets on a regular monthly basis separate from an Android OS version update, which hopefully becomes a more widespread plan for the rest of the OEM's that haven't done so yet. Having the very latest OS version is simply not as necessary as it once was.  For those reasons (among others) it's not exactly an "Apple's to apples" comparison of OS version adoption rates since new iOS features and security fixes generally come only via an OS update.

    In any event Apple's comprehensive OS update method works well for them. Google doesn't have the same luxury so that's at least one thing Apple fans don't have to worry about them copying. 
    smile 
    edited January 2016 techloverlord amhran
  • Reply 17 of 37
    How does it work on iPhone? Do stock apps update regularly like on Android? I'm not sure why people get so hung up on this thing about Android users using old versions of the OS when they have updated versions of Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Drive, etc. The apps matter more to me than the OS version.
    gatorguycornchiptechloversingularitycnocbui
  • Reply 18 of 37
    gatorguy said:
    williamh said:
    I'd guess that the numbers are actually worse than reported.  Google is reporting the OS versions of phones that visited the Google Play store.  Are people with the most obsolete phones more or less likely to be visiting the Google Play store than people with new phones?  I'd argue that people with new phones are much more likely to visit that store.
    Aren't Apple's iOS version adoption rates based on App Store visits too? I thought they were but not entirely certain. 

    Deflection much? Some history for you:

    - Google used to count devices that checked into their servers. This gave a very accurate reflection of the total number of devices at each version level.
    - Google changed their method of tracking so it only counted users who visited the Play Store. They claimed this was better for developers as it showed people who are more likely to buy Apps, not total users (many on older versions who probably don't buy many Apps).
    - When Google made this change, usage for newer versions shot up and older versions went down, making it appear more users were on newer versions.
    - Apple NEVER used to publish a chart showing iOS adoption rates.
    - After Google switched counting methods, Apple introduced their own version usage chart, and used the same counting method as Google (and poked fun at Google at the same time).

    Hope I cleared that up for you.
    cornchipnolamacguylolliver
  • Reply 19 of 37
    xbit said:
    No mention that Google offers Android API updates separately from OS updates these days?

    Why mention it when a) not all features and APIs are available through Google Play Services and b) not all security updates are repairable by Google Play Services.

    Just look at the recent Android security flaws discovered this past year and how many required an update to the OS outside of what Google Play Services can fix.

    Google is still a long way from being able to directly update devices outside of Nexus devices. 
    nolamacguymacky the mackychialolliver
  • Reply 20 of 37
    xbit said:
    No mention that Google offers Android API updates separately from OS updates these days?
    As long as you mention it, 20% of the reviews for those API updates are 1-star.  Apparently the API updates frequently break things.   BTW, Carlos below gave it a 2-star review.

    My phone automatically updated itself, now the play store won't work, and it's asking me for a coupon code that I don't have. This has been such a waste of time, and I have no idea how to fix it. Please help!

    carlos benitez 24 December 2015
    Why it doesn't let me go to Youtube? I open YouTube and It says that I need Google Services I try to update the app but it say Package is invalid.. Fix it

    Tekno Neko 24 December 2015
    Why??? Each time I attempt to update it, it says there is insufficient storage available, even tho there is not much on my device! Without this update, most of the apps, only those pre-programmed, are not able to run!

    macky the mackychialolliver
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