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Android Distribution Numbers – December 2017: Oreo who?

by Justin Herrick | December 13, 2017December 13, 2017 3:00 pm PST

New month, same story. It’s been four months since Google released Android 8.0 Oreo for Pixel and Nexus devices, but its partners still haven’t embraced the software update in a significant way. The latest version of Android remains on a very small number of phones and tablets. Just 10 million of the world’s Android devices are on Oreo, which is downright embarrassing considering how many there are total in the world.

The Android distribution numbers for December 2017 are similar to last month’s results. Oreo and Nougat are the only two versions on the rise; however, both are heavily outweighed by aging versions like Marshmallow and Lollipop. While Nougat continues to experience modest gains, Oreo seems stuck almost six months into being available.

Fragmentation on the platform has always been a problem for Google, and the company doesn’t have an immediate fix. The long-term solution being rolled out this year won’t really have an effect until late 2018.

These are the percentage point changes from last month:

  • Oreo: +0.2%
  • Nougat: +2.7%
  • Marshmallow: -1.2%
  • Lollipop: -0.9%
  • KitKat: -0.4%
  • Jelly Bean: -0.3%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: no change
  • Gingerbread: -0.1%

There’s a positive in the changes, but the biggest takeaway is negative. The good news is that the two most recent versions experienced increases while everything else fell. Their predecessors, though, remain in the lead with a tight grip. Google can’t seem to get Oreo and Nougat ahead of Marshmallow and Lollipop despite the latter duo being over two years old. And it’s a shame because Oreo and Nougat usher in a new era for Android’s look and feel.

A very limited number of Android devices are on Oreo today. Pixel and Nexus devices have it, of course. But beyond Google’s own hardware finding the latest version of Android can be difficult. Although HTC has sent it out to multiple 2017 devices, Samsung and LG continue testing the software update before a public release. Sony has it on a few phones, though they’re not relevant among many people.

Treble, which Google included with Oreo, is a modular-like system for partners to take advantage of in order to get their devices upgraded. The problem is that partners aren’t required to implement it on existing devices moving from Nougat to Oreo. Google is only forcing Treble to be used on devices shipping with Oreo out of the box.

Assuming it works the way we expect, Treble should give future versions of Android a nice boost over time. Partners will find it easier to get software updates out, and thus the Android distribution numbers will become favorable for recent versions.

Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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