- Android Oreo saw a .4% increase from last month. It’s now installed on 1.1% of Android devices!
- Android Nougat has finally surpassed Marshmallow.
- Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat, Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Gingerbread all saw decreases this month.
The second batch of Android distribution numbers of 2018 are in, and Android Oreo is now installed on 1.1% of all Android devices!
Judging by Google’s official statistics, Android distribution numbers are heading in the right direction — Oreo and Nougat are seeing a rise in install numbers, while many older versions of Android have decreased by a few tenths of percentage points.
The biggest news is Oreo’s install numbers, which are up .4% from last month’s numbers. This is due to the fact that Honor, Huawei, Motorola, HMD Global, and plenty of other manufacturers have updated their devices to Android 8.0 Oreo in January alone. These numbers will likely see a big jump next month when Essential, Samsung, and other OEMs begin rolling out the update to their phones.
Android 7.0 – 7.1.1 Nougat also saw an increase of 2.2% this month, bringing the install numbers to 28.5% overall.
All other Android versions saw a decrease this month. Marshmallow is down to 28.1% from 28.6%, Lollipop is down to 24.6% from 26.3%, and KitKat is down to 12% from 12.8%. Jelly Bean is down to 5% from last month’s 5.6%, and Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread both saw .1% decreases to .4% and .3%, respectively.
Overall, February’s distribution numbers are not surprising at all. After all, most 2017 devices launched with Nougat, and a number of manufacturers have already updated their older devices to Nougat. Oreo, as is the case with all Android versions, will be a different story. Almost all flagships in 2018 will launch with Oreo, but it will take a significant amount of time for 2017 phones to receive the update, and by the time they do, Google will have announced Android P.
Are Android updates getting slower?
From KitKat, to Lollipop, to Marshmallow, Nougat and now Oreo, each new version of Android appears to be hitting fewer devices and doing so in a slower fashion (see the chart below). Why is that? It’s possible that OEMs are becoming less concerned with rolling out updates quickly, which would explain the weaker curve in the graph below, but this likely isn’t the major issue (OEMs are probably well aware of the importance consumers places on timely Android updates).
We know that people are also 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.
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.