The state of Android: January 2013

The calendar has rolled over and for many it’s time to look forward. 2013 is a promising year for tech, especially in the mobile field. Towards the end of 2012, Google’s mobile platform Android appeared to be growing and increasing in popularity. Many users who will be replacing older phones this coming year are curious as to how Android is actually doing, and an increasing number of them may well make the switch. So what state is Android in for the year ahead?

Here’s a spotlight on Android at the beginning of 2013.

Distribution by the numbers
Since 2009 there have been 11 different major versions of the OS released, with the current being 4.2 (Jelly Bean). As of January 3, 2013, the percentage of devices (according to Google) using the two versions of Jelly Bean is around 10.5%.

Looking at the numbers, 4.1 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has slightly over 29% of total users, while 2.3 (Gingerbread) has nearly 48% of users. In other words, nearly half of Android users still use an OS from 2010 – Gingerbread was released in 2010 with a major update in February 2011.

These numbers come from the Android developer’s website, and offer an interesting snapshot into the more technical side of the OS. Overall, they show a fragmented market. Compare it to previous figures however, and you can see that the gap is slowly closing. It is highly unlikely though that Android will see Apple-like iOS version adoption rates anytime soon.

This fragmentation does hamstring users a bit, as many manufacturers are slow to release updates and some carriers block updates completely. On the upside, it forces developers to develop apps that are compatible with different OS versions to get the most users possible.

Apps, apps and more apps!
Many users view Apple’s App store as superior. While it’s true that developers often release their apps for Apple users first, this is changing, with many developers now releasing apps simultaneously on both platforms.

In fact, back in October, Google Play (Android’s app store) pulled even with Apple’s App store – both stores have about the number of apps available, and according to The Sociable will have one million apps before Apple does.

A quick view of the Google Play store shows that many of the most popular iPhone apps are also available for Android, making the “Apple has better apps debate” less of a moot point.

What this means for the phone buyer in 2013
Android is currently in a bit of a conundrum: Developers are hesitant to invest in high-quality apps because of a lower usage rate compared with Apple, while users are hesitant to buy because of a perceived lack of high quality apps and lack of update support.

Google started to make steps in 2012 to turn this around. One of the major steps was the release of the Nexus tablet line. The Nexus 7, a 7 inch tablet, was released at more than USD$100 cheaper than the iPad and has seen fantastic sale rates. Similarly, Samsung released the S III which gives the iPhone a serious run for its money. Beyond that, features released in Jelly Bean make the OS more user friendly.

Combine this with the momentum of Google Play and the growing number of quality apps, and you already have a viable platform. If you are worried about the lack of updates you do have options. One of the more popular ones is to purchase a Google Nexus product. This is Google’s ‘Vanilla Android’ and receives OS updates within a few days of their release, not to mention that the hardware is top of the line at release.

If you are in the market for a new phone this year, Android device is a great choice. To learn more about how you can integrate Android into your daily routine, please contact us.

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