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Jelly Bean Now on 40% of Android Devices, Google Says
Posted August 2, 2013
Jelly Bean Now on 40% of Android Devices, Google Says
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By Barry Levine. Updated August 2, 2013 11:22AM

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Jelly Bean has become more popular than Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread. While you'll have to check with the Food Network to see if this ranking applies to real-world desserts, in the world of Android, the ranking of dessert-named versions of the mobile operating system could mean things are settling out.

Google's Android 4.x Jelly Bean operating system for mobile has now reached 40.5 percent of all Android-based devices. This could indicate the fragmentation of Google's open source OS is beginning to coalesce toward a dominant version, which could mean a more predictable installed base for Android developers.

According to stats provided by the Google Play app/content marketplace, Jelly Bean 4.1.x is now being used by about 34 percent of Google Play visitors, with the 4.2.x version on about 6.5 percent of devices, as of Aug. 1. The data is based on devices that have visited the marketplace in the previous 14 days, so it primarily represents users who are actively downloading apps or content.

The Decline of Gingerbread

The second-most popular version is Gingerbread, versions 2.3.3 through 2.3.7, which constitutes 33 percent of users, plus another tiny 0.1 percent for versions 2.3 through 2.3.2. In third place is Ice Cream Sandwich versions 4.0.3 through 4.0.4, now on 22.5 percent of devices visiting Google Play. Devices running Jelly Bean exceeded those with Gingerbread for the first time in July. In June, 36 percent of visitors to Google Play used Gingerbread, compared to 33 percent on Jelly Bean.

Other Android versions, bearing the tasty-sounding names of Doughnut, Eclair, Froyo and Honeycomb, each have 3 percent or less.

The previously No. 1 Gingerbread is beginning to decline in market share, since its current 33 percent is down from about 34 percent in July and 36 percent in June, and Ice Cream Sandwich declined about one point in the second half of July.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told us that "it's hard to get excited about 40 percent." He added that, although this new stat shows Jelly Bean is taking the lead among Android versions, 40 percent "does not seem like a lot to me."

'Positive Trend'

Greengart noted that Google "has slowed down its pace of new Android launches, allowing vendors and consumers to catch up a bit," but if you're an Android developer trying to make sure your app works on a given version of the OS, targeting only 40 percent of the base does not solve the problem of fragmentation.

While he acknowledged that this is a "positive trend" toward unifying the Android platform, Greengart said a single version would probably need to reach something like 85 percent before one could genuinely say there was no longer a fragmentation issue with Android.

But whatever difficulties the many flavors of Android pose for developers, the platform is still going great guns. A new report from market research firm Strategy Analytics, based on second-quarter data, shows that Android has an overwhelming 79.5 percent share of the global smartphone market, an increase of 10 percent year-over-year.

Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston said in a statement that the drivers of Android's success include "competitive licensing costs, numerous hardware partners and a large app store."

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