It seems that ICS is finally becoming a significant part of the Android ecosystem, just after Jelly Bean has been announced. The Android team has announced that ICS is now on 20.9% of the devices on the market, while Jelly Bean is available on only 1.2%, the bulk of which I assume is taken by the Nexus 7 and CM10 ROMs.
Gingerbread has fallen to 57%, although it’s clearly still the main version developers need to target for the foreseeable future. It might not be until Android 6.0 gets launched a year from now, that ICS will represent over 50% of the market. Meanwhile, Jelly Bean and Android 5.0 (and possibly another Android 5.1 that’s going to be released at the next Google I/O) will have much smaller market shares.
This is why I’ve said before that I wish Google would just release one major version of Android per year, while giving hints and and leaks about upcoming features throughout the year, to keep people excited about the new “major” release. Instead, Andy Rubin’s team is keeping everything under wraps until days before the release or even until they officially announce it.
I don’t think this “Apple-like” secrecy is beneficial for Google, as they need to make not only users, but also manufacturers excited about the new release. Google needs to show OEMs how excited users are about the next version of Android, and how much they want to see new features in the upcoming devices.
Plus, releasing the software only once a year would allow all manufacturers to say “we’re upgrading all 2011 and 2012 phones with Android 5.0″, or “we’re upgrading all 2012 and 2013 phones with Android 6.0″, because it would be just one upgrade per year for them, instead of two or more. That would also ensure that the bulk of Android users aren’t two versions behind when a new version comes out.
Having one update per year would give manufacturers more time ahead of the release to use the PDK, and release new phones and upgrade the old ones. Google would also have more time to prepare the SDK for the next version and release it much earlier for developers, along with a beta version of its OS. This would help developers prepare their apps for the day one of the new OS release.
I think this strategy of updating software just once per year would create a much better experience for everyone involved, from users to developers and manufacturers.