FIGURES that are being bandied about by Google show that almost 50 per cent of Android users are stuck with smartphones that are running old versions of the operating system.
The good news for developers is that out of the six versions of Android only three, 1.5, 1.6 and 2.1 have widespread use. The figures also show that almost all Motorola Milestone and Droid users have now upgraded to Android 2.1.
The figure of 49.6 per cent represents those Android users are left using Android 1.5 and 1.6. It is also a damning indictment of the handset manufacturer's failure to keep pace with Google's energetic OS update schedule. This has resulted in users being denied access to features and, more importantly, applications on the Android Market.
With Android 2.1 and more recently Android 2.2 bringing in a number of enticing features, users and developers will be hoping that the device manufacturers get on the stick and release updates. Motorola has shown that even after delays it managed to do a pretty good job at getting its users off Android 2.0.
The report doesn't include statistics for Android 2.2, since at present users have to hack their devices in order to load the latest version of the operating system. Android 2.2, for those stuck on version 1.5 or 1.6, must seem like a distant dream, especially as manufacturers such as Sony seem determined to lag behind the latest version of Google's Linux based smartphone operating system.
Android isn't the only operating system to suffer from fragmentation, as Apple's Iphone OS is set for its latest update. That will leave punters with the first generation Iphone behind completely and those using an Iphone 3G won't even have multitasking support, which is something that is present on Android.
At this point, with the number of devices running Android growing almost daily, developers can only hope that Google offers some incentives for lazy device manufacturers to keep their smartphones up to date.