Google reported Thursday that it has succeeded in moving more than half of its Android user base to version 2.x of the smartphone OS, or at least half of those Android devices that are either browsing the Web or downloading apps to their devices.
The issue is important for developers on the platform, as balkanization of the Android ecosystem has been one of the primary challenges facing the wide open, Open Source Android world. When combined with the wide array and form factors of Android devices, some have viewed Android development as being a moving target.
Apple, however, has singularly successful at moving its device base to each new version of iPhone OS/iOS, and of course Apple has a very limited number of devices in each new generation of iPhones that comes to market. As such, development for Apple’s iOS platform is not viewed as having the same weakness.
Which is why Google is offering these numbers so that developers can, “understand the landscape of device distribution and decide how to prioritize the development of your application features for the devices currently in the hands of users.”
Google also has a different challenge than Apple in pushing out OS improvements, as Apple can do so through iTunes, which is called up every time a user plugs their iPhone into their Mac or PC for synching or charging. With that in mind, moving 50% of its browser and app downloading user base to version 2.x is an important milestone for the company.
Most importantly, it’s fully half of those users that are using 2.1, the very latest version of the OS. Another 0.3% are using 2.0.1, while .1% are using version 2.0. Of the other 49.6%, it’s a roughly even split between versions 1.5 and 1.6, as seen in the chart below.
Data collected during two weeks ending on June 16, 2010