More than 4x as many people are running Gingerbread than Marshmallow

by: Derek ScottJanuary 6, 2016

android 6.0 marshmallow

Do you remember when Gingerbread came out? This would have been December 2010: more than five years ago. Do you remember your excitement and anticipation as you waited for Android 2.3 to finally arrive on your device? You might be feeling the same way about Marshmallow now, eagerly awaiting its eventual appearance.

Well, the new Android distribution numbers this month are in, and as it stands, only 0.7% of Android users are currently running Marshmallow, the most up-to-date version of Android. Gingerbread, however, is still rocking a hard 3.0%. This means that more than four times as many people are running Gingerbread than are running Marshmallow.


Last month, Marshmallow made a pretty solid leap to get to .5% usership. In the intervening time, however, we haven’t seen anywhere near as much growth proportionally. Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop still dominate the Android ecosystem. Lollipop is holding strong at 32.4% usership, but KitKat still holds the largest share at 36.1%. Marshmallow’s notoriously slow adoption rate means that the only version of Android it’s currently beating out is Froyo. That’s right, Froyo: the version that introduced push notifications and the ability to view animated gifs in-browser.

Android 6 Marshmallow raining cropSee also: Marshmallow springs up to .5% distribution21

The fragmentation of the Android ecosystem isn’t a new topic of discussion by any means, but seeing these numbers stacked against each other paints a vivid image of just how divided usership remains going into 2016. Gingerbread was the first version of the Android operating system that offered functionality for multiple cameras on the same device, and as of the beginning of this year, the number of people still stuck on that version of Android is quadruple the number of people using Marshmallow.

It’s definitely food for thought, but it’s not as bad as many would have you believe. While a number of people are still stuck on older versions of Android, updates to Google Play services and other Google apps means that the majority of Android apps work with just about any Android version, and this is especially true with devices that are rocking Jelly Bean or higher. 

Here’s the full stats as they stand:

Froyo: 0.2%
Gingerbread: 3.0%
Ice Cream Sandwich: 2.7%
Jelly Bean: 24.7%
KitKat: 36.1%
Lollipop: 32.4
Marshmallow: 0.7%

What are your thoughts regarding the current state of the Android ecosystem? Does this gap bother you, or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Next: Android 6.0 Marshmallow features

  • Ika Shankulashvili

    Whats wrong with Google. That is equivalent of iPhone running iOS 4

    • Kerjifire

      Do you even know how android works? It’s not google’s fault that OEMs aren’t updating their phones.

      • mrochester

        It is. Google made Android open source. Google should just close source it and give everyone updates. Problem solved.

        • Kerjifire

          And create an apple like closed environment? no thanks, that flys in the face of android and customization.

          • mrochester

            Customisation is massively overstated. Another iOS like system would be great.

          • Svnjay

            Then switch to Windows Phone.

          • Kerjifire

            “Customisation is massively overstated” Whilst you may prefer a stock standard experience across the board, I do prefer the freedom which Android brings. I did quite like the Sense skin for a little while on my phone but I started preferring the vanilla android experience. But diving a little deeper I also found some 3rd party launchers on Google Play to my liking, like Nova which enables gestures like the swipe down anywhere on the homescreen to bring down the notification bar or the swipe from the edge from Action Launcher.

            Little features, innovations like that are what I absolutely love about Android. Without this freedom on Android people would be stuck with their default TouchWiz or Sense or Stock, something which people may like but others may not. I do understand that you may enjoy just having a phone stay the same like IOS or Windows Phone but I like others do enjoy the choice of being able to change something.

            That being said I do understand where you’re coming from. Fragmentation IS an issue on android with OEMs neglecting updates (something which google should address) and the sub-par “android” experience some phones provide. But then again android skins like TouchWiz, Sense etc do provide another avenue of choice. If only the OEMs would update their phones.

            tl;dr: Customisation/choice is great, fragmentation is bad to an extent (could be good if OEMs got their shit together)

        • David

          never seen a more stupid comment regarding android. Make it closed source will not fix the fragmentation.
          Apple can deliver fast on time updates because they build and know the hardware what is used in its products, like google does with the nexus line. Slow updates and fragmentation is OEM’s fault, they make a smartphones with the latest available android version, and if it runs, its fine. If it has a mayor bug, it will get an update, but after all, if they don’t release updates the consumers who want the newest and latest OS have to buy a new phone wich equals more money for the OEM, so there is no fault in google, Andorid is being updated regularly, but OEM’s have no interest in putting developing into a product they have allready sold, they put the effort into something new, to make us buying the latest smartphone. If android will be closed source just google would make android phones and android will die..

          • mrochester

            I disagree I believe Google are mostly at fault for allowing people to chop and change Android. That lack of control has led to the mess that were in now. It was a great disservice to consumers and it’s hard to forgive Google for doing what they did. They could go some way by starting to correct those mistakes though.

          • David

            “the lack of control” has made Android to the world leader, if it was something iOS like and google wasn’t want to be a hardware company, how would it grow so much?

          • mrochester

            World leader in what? Sales numbers? That doesn’t benefit me as a consumer.

        • 29

          they would be the quickest way to kill android. Google should find a way to penalise OEMs that fall behind in the update cycle. or reward those who don’t

      • Jack

        But they should do something about it so every android user should get latest os…

        • Kerjifire

          If people want the latest, get a Nexus, simple. There’s not much they can really do since android is an open source. Closing it is like taking away the freedom, something which android is so famous for.

          Whilst your point is valid, ultimately it is up to the OEMs to update their phones. It will be up to the consumers to begin favoring phones from OEMs who consistently and frequently update their phones for such a change to happen but that in itself is already very unlikely with the big budget marketing from Samsung and others.

    • retrospooty

      LOL, if that is what you think and that is what you want, go buy an IOS device.

  • sjesudasan

    Right now majority of consumers don’t care what version of Android runs in their smartphone. As a result, which OEM provides the best OS upgrade support doesn’t affect their purchase decision. Current situation of Low end and Mid end smartphones being left out of upgrade road map of OEMs won’t change unless there is a shift in consumers mindset to include OS upgrade support as one of the criteria for purchase. This will push OEMs to manufacture far lesser models and provide better support.

    • Vats

      Even though Google is earning big amounts from android…..they haven’t came up with any sort of solution to control their own OS …..its time then step up to control android much strictly…..I understand that android is open source…but something is needed to be done…..oems don’t care about what software their phones are running…its just because of the market orientation that they have to launch phones with latest android version and providing further updates…..mid Range phones have grown upto so close to the levels of flagshipsthat its only the software that would attract Customers to buy phones …..we shall wait for I/O 2016 in order to see the vision of Google for the coming future.

    • Bobby Phoenix

      This is my thinking too. If my phone works well, and does what it should, I don’t care if it’s on a two year old OS as long as it’s secure. Needing the latest OS is just to say you have it now. Most companies tweak their phones so much you can’t tell what it’s running unless you check. Like Samsung for example. If you don’t follow OS releases probably 90% or more wouldn’t know if it was KK, LP, or MM if you put all three in a line next to each other. They look so similar, and the features are pretty much the same. Plus the newest isn’t always the best. Sometimes it makes things worse.

  • saksham

    when samsung has all of its phones running marshmallow it will be in the 30 % again

    • 29

      if. 30 is a small number anyway

  • 29

    presence of froyo, gingerbread, jellybean and ics on this list should be ashaming for Google and OEMs.

  • Google themselves could do a lot more to close this fragmentation by forcing more upgrades through the oems when possible. Currently too many drag their heels or drop old models for no reason but profit and upgrade cycles.
    How about an alternative stock through play store when the likes of samsung et Al, drop a phone model?that would stir up the second hand market!

    • Kevin Blanco

      Google should take the manufacturers out of the loop. When Google says a new OS is ready, put it on the Play Store for all to download. They could put a description and specs right there for all to read. The app when you download it would check to make sure your device can use it.

  • Rohit Raja

    Even with the lower versions, its not causing any hindrance to running latest apps (well more than most of em), may be thats the reason why consumers (most of them)dont care which version they’re running.

    • Kevin Blanco

      This is true. I roll with a Moto G now, but my first Android device was a Score M from ZTE by way of Metro PCS. Very much an entry level device which ran Gingerbread, but I was still able to use any music player that I cared to and even download some games. I eventually did upgrade, twice, but it wasn’t because I just had to have the latest software…

  • Kevin Blanco

    This is a problem that Google should’ve foreseen and established a policy governing the adoption of operating systems. It probably would’ve been done through standards put forth to the manufacturers of the minimum necessary in an Android device back in the early days. We probably wouldn’t have had the bargain basement entry level devices like we had(have), I had a ZTE Score M from Metro PCS. You couldn’t do squat with it and while it probably wouldn’t have existed, standards would’ve meant a better phone.
    Otherwise, Google needs to bypass manufacturers so far as updating software goes. If you have to send your OS to the manufacturers first, then you’re having to deal with THEIR list of priorities and how you may not rate being one. That and the limitations incurred by how they might’ve put their own spin on things so they have to go through and tweak your software to fit their needs. Android benefits from being very customizable. It’s the user and not the manufacturer that should do the customizing…

  • Alexander Rockwell

    What needs to be looked at here is just how many of these devices are actually modern, in-use, daily used devices. Also what kind of device it is. Tinkering devices can’t be counted imo. I have an old HTC EVO Shift 4G sitting in front of me, it just so happens to be running Froyo. I use it just to toy with. My daily device though just switched from a Galaxy Note 4 (Lollipop) to a Nexus 6P (Marshmallow), so neither one is really behind at all.

    Most phones I see people with (in my area anyways) are ones that are of the Jelly Bean era or newer. And chances are those have been updated to at least KitKat if not further through rooting (my mom’s GS3 is an example since it’s rooted and running Lollipop). A big issue I see with older versions of Android are tablets. Super cheap, bargain bin tablets. A lot of people see these “great deals” for a $20 Android tablet, and the thing is so far behind in Android versions that it isn’t even funny. And the big problem is, they are using hardware that is so low end that if you even can root the thing and get a modern version installed, they don’t run well at all. The thing is though, these people either don’t know better, or just don’t care. They use it to get on the internet while sitting on the couch, or to play their Words with Friends (literally the only thing my grandmother does with the Tegra Note 7 tablet I gave her).

    Make app developers require modern versions of Android, and even the super cheap devices will be forced to modernize.

  • Avi

    like many before me here, android versions update has nothing to do with user choice, only manufacture choice. most people buy phones to 3-5 years. manufactures usually update their operation systems for 1-2 years max so you have allot of people with older devices who would update if they could but don’t because they cant.
    many people use mid-range phones with hardware that can’t support the newest versions.
    I admire apple for make sure devices are kept updated for 3-4 years at least. google should make sure its newest version can support mid-range devices from the last 3 years as a rule. I also wish google made android versions that can be installed universally on all devices by all manufactures so you can choose if to white for your phones official version or not. (rooting the device and using a custom rom doesn’t qualify since this is not an official google build!)

  • Kamui

    Google cares only for Nexus and their “Google Services” android distro.
    SoC manufacturers care to sell new SoCs every few months.
    Smartphone, tablet etc manufacturers care to sell new products every 3-4 months.
    Noone cares to push hardware manufacturers to share their drivers (or sources, yeah a joke) for their peripherals and make a universal OS that can run on every ARM based SoC.
    Why I can setup my windows or linux on every X86 or x64 CPUs whenever I want and why I can’t do that on an ARM based device?
    Why do I have to wait for the manufacturer to update the ROM (update, another joke)?
    Most of you will say that different architectures and hardwares and…. makes that impossible.
    From my side I know that everything is possible and can be done…but the BIG ones care about sales and not making a “format” and upgrade just a simple next -> next installation.

    • retrospooty

      You must be new to the world of smartphones. Welcome. Now get a grip, your old phone didnt stop working when 6.0 came out nor did any of its features. If you are that concerned with having the latest OS because it’s simply the latest then buy your porducts accordingly.

      • Kamui

        “buy your porducts accordingly.” Thank you for proving my point.

        • retrospooty

          My point was that Android it has been this way since day one and hasn’t changed. The only “change” has been the addition of the Nexus line, so at least there is an option. I guess I still wonder why people buy low/mid range OEM phones and then complain when they dont get updated… Duh. This is how it works, Nexus, get fast updates to the latest, OEM flagships (Galaxy S and Note, LG “G” , Sony “Z”, HTC “One” etc) get updates for appx 2 years, but not always timely, sometimes it takes 6 months or more to come. Low and mid range OEM phones often dont get updated at all. This hasn’t changed and wont change, so buy accordingly or take matters into your own hands with a custom ROM… Its really quite simple.

          • Kamui

            I agree it was always that way but that’s why android authority start discussions like that. Does it have to be that way? Maybe it’s time for the companies to change and be truth against the “ecosystem” term where all creatures becom better every day.

            I agree that I will pay more money for the 20MP camera, the 2.5D glass the Snapdragon 820, but why for the software….when it’s open source (so I can donate) and the idea behind it is to unify all the devices.That kind of software has to be universal and boot on every device and must be easy to install on every device (properly or laggy based on the hardware). That idea of having sites like needrom (no offense their job is great) which have 54892064302 ROM not only for different products but also for different variants of them (8GB or 16GB etc) is nonsense. It’s like they way machines worked years ago (Spectrum, Amiga, Commodore etc) nice times, but we all like the way we can share things without having in our mind….Is it compatible?

            From my view I want to have full authority of what I can do with my device even from hardware (if I’m a tech guru) or software by just updating my phone to the newest version through the easy setup wizard.

          • retrospooty

            Agreed it should be that way, but its not and it wont be… The only way OEM’s would change is if people stopped buying them and only bought what gets updated, and that just isnt happening. Most people just dont care about it.

  • SL

    Some companies are still using tablets with older os, was a Countdown NYE a few days ago and Insomiac uses android tablets for all their POS systems with gingerbread installed. During EDC Las Vegas 2015, they were using Nexus 7 tablets to scan wristbands but wasnt able to catch the operating system on them.

  • me_

    I have a tablet who has been upgraded often from Jellybean 4.2 up to Marsmallow 6.0.1 than I use for gaming and surf the net. Never have a problem downloading an app from the store.

    Still use hardware with Jellybean 4.2 and 4.3 and KitKat 4.4.4. and no problem to get all from the store.

    Fragmentation is only use by pundy and some blogger to write something about and to show the difference between Ios and Android.

  • Me

    has nothing to do with android it has to do with the phone manufacturers. i can see john dye is trying to blame google for this instead of putting the blame where it belongs, on the phone manufacturers.

  • 1127fctwosw

    it’s wednesday…time for the weekly “android fragmentation” story.

    5 android devices on my desk right now…

    moto g (xt1045)….runs 4.4.4…will probably never get an update…don’t care. got it for 70 bucks…runs like a champ. daily driver device.

    s3 mini (g730)…runs 4.4.2… absolutely will not get another update…don’t care…got it for like 35 bucks…use it as a dash cam.

    s3 mini (8190)…runs CM 12

    LG Esteem…runs ROM #2…used as an “IP” camera to keep an eye on the dogs

    Hisense Sero Pro 7 tablet…runs 4.2.1…no updates forthcoming…(tho i think their is a 6.0 ROM out there for it)

    i also “maintain” two 1st gen moto x’s (stock 5.X.X) and two samsung captivates running CM 11…

    the only issue i run into is google throwing out updated “stock” apps for 6.0 only…but, there a numerous apps that do the same job…so not really an issue…i guess.

    now for a frame of reference…i have an iphone 3GS that is sitting in the bottom of a drawer that is (for the most part) unusable.
    why? because “this app has been optimized for ios 7 or 8 or whatever…” this phone is in the same age group as the two captivates which are still being used as we speak.

    fragmentation in android is the ant hill that everybody uses for making a mountain click bait fodder…

  • Jack

    User are stuck with jelly bean and kitkat because OEM are busy with introducing new device with almost same specifications every week rather than giving updates to devices. Its better to go with moto devices or nexus devices for regular updates…

  • Jack

    With every release of Android, Google should create a ROM which will run on every device irrespective of chipset..only basic requirements like RAM and internal memory can be considered.

    • osa219

      i agree with you and have a nice UI

      • osa219

        it will be kick for IOS and windows phone

  • Jack

    I would like to see one more feature in android to stop any app from using internet in foreground also…

  • Juan A C

    You should make a line chart to show the evolution of the different versions

  • Ernest Lansdale

    I’m relatively new to Android. I went from Blackberrys to a Windows phone before I started using Android. I just bought a new phone. I jumped from Gingerbread to Marshmallow 6.0.1 and love the changes. I rooted the old phone and was able to install a stable Jellybean ROM. While Jellybean is an improvement, it’s not a big enough improvement to make the phone any better. I have an Android tablet running Android and just discovered that it’s running KitKat. The tablet version is great. As functional as I need it to be but, if it could do what my Nexus can I’d use it a lot more.

  • Dickson

    Utterly pointless article. Most phones don’t have Marshmallow available for them yet, and those that do are not widely adopted yet either. I have a Note 3, running Lollipop, which a very large chunk of Android phones are running. It was less than 2 years old at the time Lollipop came out, and already Samsung have abandoned the Note 3. The S5 won’t see anything after Marshmallow, and the Note 4 will be left out of Android N most likely. There is no hardware limitations preventing these phones from running newer versions of Android, but as others have pointed out, Samsung have been busy releasing dozens of phones every year and can’t be bothered supporting many of them soon after.

  • John Matthews

    Personally, I’m shocked.

  • techYES

    I had my iphone 4S on ios 5 for a long long time and was only forced to update to ios 7 due to security concerns as well as pretty much all new apps are unavailable for anything below ver, 7. The fact that you cannot roll back an update when you find out it turns your phone into a sluggish and unstable brick is how Apple deals with ‘fragmentation’ making the users need to go out an buy a new phone every year and relegate devices on the older OS to the dump or into a drawer. and thus no longer counted.

    I still have a few android devices connected to tvs or older tablets that are working good enough and stable on GB or ICS and there is no shortage of app support that is the reason for those older versions sticking around for so long. Because they actually do “JUST WORK” The sheer number of older active android devices online in the world should be applauded as a success IMO.

  • comparing month old (?) MM version to over 5yo old OS? it’s like standard tube smartphone comparison of 2generation older device to latest one. please, wait at least half a year for all companies to actually release their updates.
    Moreover, most of smartphones on the globe will not receive lollipop or MM update at all and not everyone will switch their phones just to get latest firmware. At the same time upgrade from LP to MM is not that major (i still like MM more).
    i get the idea of article but still..