Google Android market penetration is growing at a pretty fast pace… but according to a new report from mobile advertising firm AdMob, the vast majority of Android users are still on phones using Android 1.5 or 1.6.
The report says that 11 devices accounted for 96 percent of all Android traffic last month, with the Motorola Droid leading the pack with 32 percent of traffic. That phone happens to be on Android 2.0 or 2.1, but most of the other handsets aren’t. Overall, 12 device manufacturers offered 34 different Android devices in March, 2010, and 38 percent of them were running Android 1.5 with 26 percent running Android 1.6.
Basically what’s going on here is that Google doesn’t get to automatically push out software and operating system updates to most of those phones. When Google releases an OS update, it makes it available to device makers and wireless carriers who can then figure out if and how to make the software available to users. Since most phones run some custom software on top of Google Android, it can often take a while before software updates are available.
Some handset makers are also still putting out new phones running older versions of Android, which complicates matters a bit.
Apple, on the other hand, controls all of the software and hardware for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. When a software update is available, Apple pushes it out directly to end users, which leads to significantly less platform fragmentation. AdMob reports that more than 86% of iPhone OS traffic last month came from devices running the two most current versions of the operating system, version 3.1.2 and 3.1.3. That could change later this year, since iPhone OS 4.0 won’t be compatible with the first generation iPhone.