Just how long does it take to roll out a new version of Android? We’ve always known that the answer is “absolutely ages” but thanks to the number crunchers at Android Police, we’ve got some tragic, solid evidence that the Android 4.0 uptake is taking even longer than usual.

A common criticism levelled at Android compared to rival iOS is that there is no clear upgrade path and that this leads to fragmentation with many devices running wildly out of date operating systems. Google only supplies six months’ worth of adoption data to its developers but Android Police’s boffins have delved back through time using the Wayback Machine to find older data and stitched together a more accurate picture of how the different versions of Android have been adopted.

What they found is not going to rebut that fragmentation argument. Six months after the relase of Ice Cream Sandwich, the roll-out is going extremely slowly. That tiny blue line at the bottom of the graph shows that Android users are updating to ICS more slowly than even previous versions (which weren’t exactly speedy).

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In Google’s defence, the Android ecosystem has grown a lot over the last year and there are now many more devices on the market that need support – certainly more than Apple has ever had to deal with, and from more manufacturers. That said, with mobile networks dragging their feet with testing and even Samsung being unwilling to roll out a SIM Free version of ICS for the Galaxy S II without waiting for Vodafone, O2 et al to approve it first, you might start to think that iOS fans have a point.

Is Android fragmentation putting you off switching? Let us know in the comments, and click through to the source to see the whole, damning timeline.

[source: Android Police]

  • http://twitter.com/dave_everett Dave Everett

    as much as fragmentation is a problem I think a lot of manufacturers are missing a trick here.  If one could reliably roll out quick updates i think their sales would go up.  I know when looking for a handset i looked for one that wouldn’t be left behind and now I’m looking at a android tablet asus is really swaying me in to their camp as they seem to be the only company that got ICS out on their transformers and did it in a good time frame whereas the likes of acer and sony still haven’t managed it.  If a phone manufactuere proved to be as quick off the mark I’d definitely consider them for my next upgrade.  And yes I know nexus handsets do get it fast but i’ve never been sold on any of them handsets, they always feel like they’ve turned up to the party after everyone else has gone home

  • Jamie

    I’m not upgrading because of the Sky Go issue, but also because I’ve heard ICS isn’t that radical a leap – certainly not enough to make me give up Sky Go. That said, I would definitely go with a manufacturer who dished out vanilla Android phones and upgraded them immediately when the new updates came out.

    • Anonymous

      Depends on what phone – it’s not apparently obvious what’s changed on the Galaxy S2, but sock 2.3 to stock 4.0 is a huge overhaul, the biggest one yet. And for the better.

    • Jaamgans

      it really is a major jump, there are loads of differences, most of these are under the skin as such so you will not see them as much, but there are some major improvements. PS – sky go is upgrading for some phones so may not be an issue for you.

  • Zedthegreat

    I own a Motorola phone – a company with a reputation as one of the worst at Android updates. The worst of a bad bunch it seems. But it isn’t the lack of update that REALLY annoys me (although it does), it’s the poor comms, the broken promises and deadlines which are missed without a reason, the vauge “rollout will start Q2″ as an example, yet we are in Q2 by a month and no update, or update on the update so to speak. It really is a pain. I don’t like iOS or Win7 phones (I like the customisation) which is lucky for the Android makers, as if I did I would switch.

  • http://twitter.com/DJSubterrain Billy Reynolds

    Not a very informative piece to be honest, you failed to point out that the reason ICS is taking so long is it’s the first iteration of Android to use hardware acceleration and as such all the phones need to have proper linux drivers for their hardware.

    That’s also why a lot of devs are getting stuck on making branches of CyanogenMod9 because the drivers are rare and hard to find for a lot of the components, cameras, etc. 

    The next iteration of Android (Jelly Bean) will be a lot quicker as all these H/W niggles should, hopefully, be sorted by then and it will be back to just working out the codebase and not all this hardware stuff.That’s why Android 4 has been a rare breed for a lot of people.

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