Apple, Inc. (AAPL) was the subject of some critical reports in September when at a week after the release of iOS 8, only 46 percent of iPhone users worldwide had upgraded. The cause for concern, the reasoning went, was that iOS 8 adoption was tracking slower than iOS 7 adoption.
But if you think 46 percent of users being on Apple’s latest platform a week after its launch is a troubling sign, then Google Inc. (GOOG) has a whopper of a statistic for you.
A full month after the launch Android 5.0 “Lollipop” less than 0.1 percent of Android users are on the latest and greatest platform, according to Google’s own Android developer tracking. These latest numbers come from the Nov. 25 through Dec. 1 window and they don’t paint a very pretty picture in terms of adoption pace for “Lollipop”.
The root of the problem is slow releases by OEMs and carriers worldwide. Globally roughly one in every two users use some sort of Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 “Jelly Bean” release (Android 4.1 debuted in June 2012). Roughly 1 in 3 are running Android 4.4 “KitKat” which launched last October. The “KitKat” usage marked a major uptick since January when only 1.4 percent of devices were running it.
While Google is at last seeing some success of moving users of very old versions of Android — including Android 2.2 “Froyo” and Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” — its demands that OEMs quicken the pace of adoption or face service blacklisting seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Thus far, aside from the HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) Nexus 9 tablet and the Nexus 6 phablet from Motorola — now a subsidiary of the Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992) — virtually no other Android devices have had Lollipop upgrades rolled out to them.
The only OEM to begin a mass rollout of Lollipop in November was Lenovo’s Motorola, who began a global rollout to recent devices including the Moto E, Moto G, Moto X, Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx. While not all of those devices had been updated by the end of November, Motorola has at least firmly committed to updating them within the next couple of weeks.
Google has also been busy upgrading its older Nexust devices to Lollipop, upgrading Nexus 5, 7, and 10 devices.
In the longer run, Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) has pledged to upgrade most of its Xperia lineup to Lollipop. Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935), the world’s largest smartphone maker, has announced no concrete plans for Lollipop upgrades — yet, but the flagship Galaxy S5 is rumored to receive a Lollipop upgrade later this month. Samsung’s domestic foe, South Korea’s LG Electronics, Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575) called rolling out Lollipop a “top priority”. It saw a test rollout to LG G3 customers last month — but only in Poland, one of its smaller markets.
All things said, there’s cause for optimism that the lack of Lollipop may begin to break in coming weeks and months. But even when Lollipop does seem some broader distribution, it’s likely to track closely to KitKat, which after three months had just a little over 1 percent market share, and which took over a year to reach even a third of Android devices. And that means that many, many Androids will never receive Google’s lovely Lollipop.
Google is desperate to change that, but thus far has been unable to bring unruly OEMs in line, for all its stern rhetoric. Google’s bluff has been called, it appears, and Android update adoption amongs OEMs remains as sluggish as ever.
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