Android fragmentation is a big issue and it looks like it getting out of control.
Google just released updated numbers on the Android developers site and only .07% of Android users are on the newest flavor of the mobile operating system, Nougat. The previous version, Marshmallow has 29% user share while the version before that called Lollipop actually has the highest share with 33%. The 2nd version of Android, Gingerbread, has 1% share which is more then Nougat. The scale of Android fragmentation is absolutely astounding and is a huge issue for Google, phone manufactures, app developers and end users. The pie chart below clearly shows the breakdown of market share for each software version.
The problem is that all parties who develop on Android need to support all versions of the operating system because it’s so fragmentation. If they fail to support certain versions, they will loose end users. What app developer wants to support six versions of software? The problem is that Google allows 3rd party phone and software companies to customize Android towards their liking. Its obvious that a lot of those OEM’s are not updating their software to the latest versions. This is somewhat understandable because it’s a big undertaking for a company like HTC or Samsung to update all of their customized features to play nice with the updated versions. Even with that issue, Google needs to do more to push them to update even if they don’t technically control each implementation. There should be incentive if they update in a timely manner or penalties if they fail to update.
They are changing their strategy a bit with the release of the Pixel and Pixel XL so they can bring the best and most updated Android experience to users just like Apple does with the iPhone and iOS. However, we’ve yet to see the impact the Pixel has on version fragmentation. It will help but continuing to allow 3rd party manufacturers to sit on old version of their operating system is a huge problem.