Yesterday, Google refreshed their quarterly android install base chart. The state of the chart perceived by most tech blog community is rosy, as they are pleased with Jelly Bean numbers and overall increased ICS percentage. But where this chart starts to show holes is 47% Gingerbread install base (around 250 million devices) which isn’t going anywhere for next few years, thanks to Samsung and other android OEMs!
Lets look at some numbers and start with US market. Samsung sold around 22 million devices between June 2010 – July 2012. Guess what, most of these phones except members of GS2 family are not getting update beyond Gingerbread. Situation with HTC was even worse with updates in gingerbread era.
Rest of the world also show the same trends. Samsung sold around 50 million in 2010 and approximately 90 million smartphones in 2011. All indications point to Asia as the largest market for Samsung and also the most price conservative. Trend depicts around 60% of all sales were mid range phones with no hope for ICS update.
Specifically in India, 8 out of 10 all time best selling Samsung phones were budget phones. In short no ICS ever.
47% of gingerbread may slowly descend to approximately 35-40% mark but will be around for next few years until users buy a new phone. Speaking of buying new phones, US users are generally tied in for 2 years contract. Cost conservative market consumers stick to their phones even longer. No matter how much Google praises OEMs for android success, it has backfired in the shape of fragmentation bomb. Recently Eric Schmidt confirmed the fact “The core strategy is to make a bigger pie. We will end up with a not perfectly controlled and not perfectly managed bigger pie by virtue of open systems.”
Bottom line is, this is going to continue forever. Today it is with Gingerbread, tomorrow it will be with ICS, when latest version would be 6.0 or beyond. Best thing to have happened around this fragmentation explosion, Google saw this coming early and made big bet on Motorola. Once Google influenced Motorola phones starts selling well, other OEMs would be forced to follow the suit of vanilla android, thereafter.