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Android Distribution Numbers – May 2018: Crumbs of Oreo

by Justin Herrick | May 11, 2018May 11, 2018 7:00 am PST

Google is facing yet another round of criticism following the release of this month’s Android distribution numbers. Oreo is the newest, but it’s not the most popular version of Android.

Somehow, despite the same problem existing for what’s soon to be a decade, fragmentation is still out of a control. Nougat, which was released in 2016, is carrying more Android devices than any other version.

While the company quickly pushes the latest version of Android to its own devices, Google’s partners aren’t upgrading in a timely manner if at all.

Alongside the announcement of Oreo last year, Google introduced Treble. The feature creates a much simpler way for companies to issue software updates. However, they’re not required to implement Treble on existing devices. Even with built-in Trebel support on new devices, there’s no guarantee Android devices will start getting software updates faster than before.

These are the percentage point changes from last month:

  • Oreo: +1.6%
  • Nougat: +0.3%
  • Marshmallow: -0.5%
  • Lollipop: -0.5%
  • KitKat: -0.2%
  • Jelly Bean: -0.2%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: no change
  • Gingerbread: no change

As you can tell, the growth rate for Oreo is less than impressive. It’s growth but nowhere near what Google should be seeing. Google released Oreo nine months ago, and here we are with it on just 5.7% of Android devices.

Taking the 2 billion Android devices confirmed to be active today, 114 million of them have the latest version of Android. The number may seem large by itself, but remember how easily Apple moves the iPhone and iPad between iOS versions. Google’s had almost ten years to fix the biggest issue plaguing Android, and there’s barely been any change.

Oreo and Nougat are alone in experiencing growth this month as every other version fell. Those older versions, though, aren’t fading away fast. Lollipop and KitKat, for example, combine to be on an estimated 654 million devices. Certainly, that is not what anyone wants to see. Google hopes its current plan will work.

The effects of Treble have yet to be seen, but the arrival of Android P could begin a positive shift. Google is welcoming partners to engage in its development. Companies like Nokia Mobile, Xiaomi, and Sony are participating in the Android P Beta prior to its public release later this year.

Expect more of the same from the Android distribution numbers in 2018. Next year we might see the statistics move in the right direction, but for now they’re filled with the same old disappointment.

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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