The Android device segment is an interesting one where the platform is fragmented with different versions. As mentioned earlier, fragmentation is a big problem for Android where there are multiple versions namely Android 1.5, 1.6, 2.1 and the latest 2.2. Most newly developed Android apps only work well with the latest version and this will leave many Android users behind.
Just about months ago, the then latest 2.1 version stood at 27%. Today, Android 2.1 accounts to half of all Android devices out there. Not surprising considering new Android devices aggressively pushed today runs on Android 2.1. Contributing to the rise also are handset manufacturers that started offering firmware upgrades of older Android devices to version 2.1, like the HTC Hero.
Despite dwindling numbers of older versions, it is also interesting to point out that they are still existing and upcoming Android devices sold running 1.6 like the recently announced Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. Looks like legacy Android OS are here to stay and they hold collectively another half of the Android pie.
The latest 2.2 (Froyo) had been announced quite some time but major Android players have yet to release such version for the time being. One of the factors of the delay is the heavy customisation by respective players like the Sense by HTC and MotoBlur by Motorola. These customisations are not mere skins but major add-ons that affects the device’s features and capabilities. Therefore it doesn’t seem as easy plonking a new OS onto the phone but instead have to find a way to inherit their personalised features onto the new Android version as well. At the rate things are going, the next version codename Gingerbread could be announced before all 2.2 (Froyo) upgrades are fulfilled.
Google’s Android developers had said that things are happening very quickly for Android and currently their product cycle is about twice a year. Hopefully when the platform matures, they aim towards once a year approach. They also acknowledge that developers too are having a hard time keeping up. Let’s see how things will go in the next 6 months.
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