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2009/12/17 - Android Segmentation

posted Dec 17, 2009, 1:55 PM by Rick Anderson   [ updated Dec 17, 2009, 2:52 PM ]
I found the following to be rather interesting - every two weeks, Google is going to release the numbers from the Android Market at the developers link - http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html - the purpose is for a developer to understand what version of the Android platform they need to test when building an application.  There's currently a bit of discussion going on about segmentation of the Android operating system.  As the Android operating system is open source, a device manufacture can develop a derivative of the platform (such as Motorola's Motoblur on v.1.5), but the downside of making a derivative is upgrading to the newer platform (again, example being Motorola's Motoblur) - the lesson here is just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.  I'm sure that the marketing folks at Motorola thought that this was a great idea to differentiate their phone.

But the big problem for application developers is designing an application that can run on and be supported by a multitude of different platforms and devices - that's the current buzz about Android segmentation and why Google is releasing these numbers out of the market.  Hopefully for application developers, the user base can move up to the latest platform.  The hindrances to doing so are two (a) device limitations and (b) dumb marketing execs.  Device limitations are specifically to the G1 - it was the first phone and has a limited amount of memory for the operating system - the rumor is it was a trick to get 1.6 on there and that it may not be possible to support 2.0.  Dumb marketing execs are like the folks at Motorola who build a derivative of a platform in order to design a feature into the phone - what they don't get is that the user base really wants the latest applications running on the latest platform (case in point being Google's Navigation - the free GPS system - only runs on 1.6 and higher and the Motorola Cliq users are out there screaming - how would you like to open a brand new phone and know that it doesn't have the capabilities to run the latest and greatest applications - the worst part is they don't know it until they try it at home).

However, there's a little side benefit that can be derived due to the infancy of the Android market, device limitations, and dumb marketing execs... it's easy to determine market share by phone company as well.

Here are the numbers:

Android PlatformPercent of Devices
Android 1.10.3%
Android 1.527.7%
Android 1.654.2%
Android 2.02.9%
Android 2.0.114.8%
Android 1.6 is T-Mobile with the G1 and the MyTouch phone - as can be seen, they have 54% of the Android market as of mid-December.  Android 2.0 and 2.0.1 is the new Motorola Droid on the Verizon network - a quick 18% of the market within the first month of release - I'd say that Verizon has to be happy with how well they've penetrated the market in such a short time.  Android 1.5 is a smattering of phones and devices - some from Sprint, some from T-Mobile such as the Cliq with Motoblur, and some from other sources such as netbooks - how those percentages fall is hard to tell.  In the future it may well be next to impossible to predict market share as devices upgrade to new platforms (we hope this becomes the case for the future of Android).
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