Most Android Users Still Don't Have Froyo

By  |  Friday, September 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

For owners of iPhones and iPod Touches, the latest major upgrade to the OS is version 4. For Android users, it’s 2.2 “Froyo.” Every iOS user with a compatible device can upgrade to 4.x at will, but Android types must wait until the wireless carrier they bought their phone from releases the Froyo update. And while every new iPhone and iPod Touch ships with iOS 4, there are still new Android devices arriving–such as Dell’s Streak–that run old versions of the software.

So how does that translate into percentages of users who get to enjoy the benefits of a current mobile operating system versus. those who are stuck on something at least slightly stale? Online advertising network Chitika, which publishes stats based on aggregate data about visitors to sites on its network, shared some relevant numbers with me.

Here are Chitika’s number for Android devices: Forty-three percent of users are on Froyo, which means that the majority are still running an old version of the OS.

And here are Chitika’s current numbers for the iPhone and iPod Touch–sixty-eight percent of users are on a 4.x version:

(For the sake of consistency, Chitika didn’t include the iPad–which will only get iOS 4.x in November–in the above numbers.)

iOS 4 had a head start on Froyo, but only a small one: Apple released it on June 21st. Google began pushing Froyo out to Nexus One owners on June 29th, and (some) other sellers of Android devices have followed in the weeks since.

It’s hard to do useful Apples-to-Androids comparisons here. For one thing, Apple and Google have different approaches to upgrades and version numbering: Apple does one major annual update and rolls the version number ahead by a full digit, while Google has been doing frequent, quite meaty upgrades without ratcheting the version number up to 3.0. We also don’t know how many of the stragglers can’t do an upgrade on their device and how many could but haven’t yet done so.

Even so, this seems like interesting proof of one benefit of Apple’s approach to hardware, software, and the integration thereof versus Google’s. If you own an iPhone or a Touch, you’re probably on the current platform. And if you own an Android device, you probably aren’t.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Brent W. Hopkins Says:

    Fragmentation is a problem with Android, but in some ways it is an unavoidable outcome of the decision to allow handset makers and carriers to customize the OS with proprietary features. It's a regrettable compromise, but probably was necessary in order to get manufacturers and carriers on board at all.

    However, I think Google is taking the long view here, and openess will eventually win out. The proprietary mindset will take awhile to go away, but the advantages of collaboration along with the drive to lower costs will force the most efficient solution.

    Proprietary solutions waste time as everyone rushes to reinvent the wheel. That's how you end up with something like Windows Vista–a car with square wheels. Doesn't help much that everyone has the latest model; square wheels still give you a very bumpy ride.

    Apple has become the Microsoft of the mobile software world. I mean, selling a case with a hump to compensate for poor antenna design, is like selling special tires to make your square wheels a little more round. Ludicrous.

  2. Brian Stringfellow Says:

    Comparing 4.x to 2.2 is a little skewed. When you look at 2.x vs 4.x Android comes away looking better.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    I agree that the comparison isn't perfect, but I think 4-to-2.2 makes more sense than 4.x-to-2.x. If you have iOS 4.0, you have almost all of iOS's important features. But if you're still on Android 2.0, you're way behind the times.


  4. L1A Says:

    They can pick up froyo in their local grocery store's yogurt isle =)

  5. swildstrom Says:

    It's actually worse than that, because of the fragmentation within Android versions. Not every device running 2.2 (or 2.1 or 1.6) has the same capabilities because both handset makers and carriers take advantage of Android's openness to mess with basic features. And while the Apple App Store is clear about what apps work with which devices, Android Market leaves you guessing.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > Apple does one major annual update and rolls the version number ahead by
    > a full digit, while Google has been doing frequent, quite meaty upgrades without
    > ratcheting the version number up to 3.0.

    That's the myth, but it's not true. Apple does more than twice as many releases per year than Google, and meaty features show up in point updates on iOS as well. For example, v4.1 has Game Center and iPod compatibility, and v4.2 will bring AirPlay, AirPrint and also iPad compatibility.

  7. Harry McCracken Says:

    Good point that 4.1 and 4.2 are meaningful updates (and for the iPad, of course, 4.2 is gigantic). I still think that as a general principle, Apple has been putting most of its update eggs in one annual basket, while Google (which has of course been playing catchup) has improved Android in more frequent bursts.


  8. paragonjr Says:

    First point:

    iPod classic, iPod shuffle, and iPod nano are not iOS devices. They're strictly music players (or music video players) with no operating systems.

    iPhone (1st Gen) launched on Jun 29, 2007, ran on iPhone OS 1.0, and is currently limited to iPhone OS 3.1.3.
    iPhone 3G (2nd Gen), iPhone 3GS (2nd Gen), and iPhone 4 (4th Gen) can all currently run on iOS 4.2.

    iPod touch (1st Gen) launched on Sep 5, 2007, ran on iPhone OS 1.1, and is currently limited to iPhone OS 3.1.3.
    iPod touch (2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, and 4th Gen) can all currently run on iOS 4.2.

    iPad Wi-Fi (1st Gen) launched on Apr 3, 2010, ran on iOS 3.2, and can currently run on iOS 4.2.
    iPad Wi-Fi + 3G (1st Gen) launched on Apr 30, 2010, ran on iOS 3.2, and can currently run on iOS 4.2.

    List of iOS devices

    2nd point:

    Bigger screens at lower resolutions on Android devices are not necessarily innovative, but at least the option is there for anyone who may prefer larger screens. OTOH, AMOLED screens are indeed very nice, as are IPS LED screens on iOS devices.

    Otherwise, you brought up some valid points. Thanx.

  9. paragonjr Says:

    CORRECTION: iPhone 3GS is 3rd Gen (not 2nd Gen)