Slow rollout: KitKat found on less than 2 per cent of Android devices
It's no secret that Google has had trouble distributing its latest Android software updates quickly, and the newest distribution numbers for the platform don't help change that opinion.
Google updated its Developers Dashboard on Tuesday, which provides data about the relative number of devices running a given version of the Android platform. The latest numbers show Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version, is found on only 1.8 per cent of Android devices after its November release.
Google seeds the software to manufacturers in a quick manner, but then it becomes a waiting game for manufacturers to add their own custom software and seed it to carriers. HTC gives a little insight into the process, detailing a five-step plan for releasing Android updates: evaluation, development, integration, certification, and lastly a push to the customer. HTC has just begun its push of Android 4.4 KitKat to some customers.
Samsung, the largest Android device manufacturer, hasn't detailed plans to release KitKat yet. It's still rolling out Android 4.3 to its devices, though Samsung is expected to announce KitKat support with a new version of Touchwiz at Mobile World Congress later this month.
It must be frustrating for Google when your top-two device manufacturers don't have updates out yet.
The distribution numbers on Tuesday further revealed 16.1 per cent of devices are running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 35.5 per cent running Android 4.1, 16.3 per cent on Android 4.2, and Android 4.3 just 8.9 per cent.
Compared to Apple's iOS distribution, Google is lacking. Then again, it's dealing with multiple manufacturers and carriers that Apple doesn't have to.
Apple's iOS 7 is found on 80 per cent of iOS devices, with 17 per cent of iOS users are still on iOS 6, and 3 per cent are on even earlier versions.
In January 2012, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Android wasn't fragmented, but argued instead that there was a "differentiation" between devices. Meaning customers can choose from multiple phones, unlike just one at Apple.
"Differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative," Schmidt said during CNET's Next Big Thing SuperSession at CES 2012. "Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they're going to compete on their view of innovation, and they're going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else."
For versions older than Android 4.0, they make up 21.4 per cent of active device numbers.