- Android Oreo installations more-than-doubled in two months, from 5.7 percent to 12.1 percent.
- Every other flavor of Android saw a drop in its distribution numbers, a first for the Oreo era.
- An incredible 86.8 percent of Android users are now on Lollipop or later.
The newest batch of Android distribution numbers of 2018 are in, and Android Oreo (both 8.0 and 8.1) is now installed on 12.1 percent of all Android devices! That means that since May of 2018, the amount of devices running Oreo has more than doubled, which is an incredible feat for Google and Android.
Judging by Google’s official statistics, Android distribution numbers are heading in the right direction — Oreo installs are rising, while every other flavor of the operating system saw a decrease in installations.
That may not seem like that big of a deal, but truth be told this is the first time that has happened in the Oreo era. Even the previous results posted in May saw the overall total of Android Nougat’s (both 7.0 and 7.1) distribution numbers going up. But today, we see that every single flavor aside from Oreo went down, even if only by fractions of a point.
Android 7.1 Nougat did see a slight increase of 1.4 percent in the past two months, while Android 7.0 Nougat actually dropped by 1.7 percent. That washes out into the negative for both versions, bringing Nougat’s total down by 0.3 percent.
All other Android versions saw a decrease over the past 60 days. Marshmallow is down to 23.5 percent from 25.5 percent, Lollipop is down to 20.4 percent from 22.4 percent, and KitKat is down to 9.1 percent from 10.3 percent. Jelly Bean is down to 3.6 percent from May’s 4.3 percent, and Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread both are at 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, which represents a 0.1 percent drop for both since two months ago.
While we expected Oreo’s distribution numbers to increase over the past 60 days, a jump of over 100 percent is pretty incredible. The fact that well over 85 percent of Android devices are now on Lollipop or later is terrific news, as devices on older operating systems are much more vulnerable to security threats.
Does this mark a turn for Android?
From KitKat, to Lollipop, to Marshmallow, and to Nougat, each new version of Android seemed to hit fewer devices and do so in a slower fashion (see the chart below). However, with this giant increase in Oreo numbers after only two months in mind, could it be that Google has finally lit a fire when it comes to OEM’s issuing more timely updates to devices?
However, we also know that people are holding onto their phones for longer periods of time, which means the number of active devices running older versions of Android stays high. As the price of flagship phones continues to rise, this could slow the rate of Android adoption rate even further as fewer and fewer devices with old software versions stay in service.
Furthermore, there are still Android devices launching without the latest version of Android out of the box, attributable to the rise of lower-cost Chinese devices and increased market growth in developing countries.
However, the increased rate of release for major Android versions may be one of the big reasons for the shape of the graph above. Jelly Bean was out for about 16 months before KitKat arrived. KitKat stuck around for slightly over a year followed by Lollipop which just scraped past 11 months before Marshmallow hit the scene. Then Marshmallow was only out for ten and a half months before Nougat showed up in mid-August. Oreo is the only software version to buck the trend, releasing almost a year to the day after Nougat. Shorter OS version shelf lives equal lower market penetration.
According to a recent AMA with the Android development team, Android versions will stick to an annual schedule going forward. Hopefully, this will result in less fragmentation.
The other key factor here is that each new Android version arrives with more Android devices in circulation, meaning its immediate impact is decreasing. When all of the major OEMs got their flagships up and running with Ice Cream Sandwich, it represented a significant share of Android phones because there were far fewer of them. There are more than two billion monthly active Android devices in use now, so there is simply more ground for the latest Android version to cover.
Being on the latest version of Android isn’t as important as it once was, though. With Play Services, for instance, Google can push out important updates to just about every Android device without the need to bake it into Android (thus requiring an entire software update). Plus, a good amount of OEMs have been focusing on rolling out the latest Android security patches to their devices, which means Android phones aren’t as vulnerable to attacks as they once were.