Google loves numbers and often uses them to drive home a point about how well one of its products, services, or platforms is doing. Which is exactly what Google has done today during I/O 2019 and regarding Android TV.
Specifically, Google states that by the end of this year at least 60-percent of Android TV devices will be running on Android 8.x (Oreo).
Although this is good if you focus on the 60-percent bit, it’s not so good when you realize Oreo is coming on two-years old now. So by the end of this year, barely over half of the Android TV devices out there will be running on a two-year old version of Android TV.
To be fair, it is much better than Android mobile which typically sees a lot more fragmentation at the OS version level, but this seems to only be highlighting how Android TV is following a similar route.
For example, Google also today made the point that right now 80-percent of Android TV devices currently run on Android 7.x (Nougat) and above.
Which is probably a more accurate state of affairs for Android TV. Right now, and by Google's own numbers, four out of five devices are running Nougat and Oreo - at best, a 2017 version of the operating system.
This also means that the remainder is running on lower versions of the operating system as unlike Android mobile there’s pretty much no devices running on the 2018 Android 9 Pie OS, let alone none capable of running on the current beta versions of Android Q.
Unlike the Android mobile, Google has yet to even publicly confirm if a developer preview version of Q for Android TV is available.
There are some devices that did launch on Android 9 Pie, but these are the niche products like projectors and therefore are unlikely to really impact on the adoption rates Google was talking about today.
That aside, there’s also the issue of the devices to begin with. Google has made a push of late for Android TV towards operators and TV markets. As a result the consumer side of the set-top box market has remained almost static for the last two years - with the exception of the likes of the Mi Box S (launched on Oreo).
With such an emphasis on new TVs, it is not surprising that the number of devices skew in favor of Nougat and Oreo as those new devices will most likely come running on a newer version of the operating system. That’s newer, not newest.
More to the point, Google saying 80-percent of devices are now running Nougat, or that 60-percent will be running on Oreo is not necessarily reflective of the approach by companies who sell Android TV devices to update their existing devices. It is likely these numbers are greatly skewed by new devices being sold into the market, not those that are being (or not being) updated.
Which comes back to the main point that Google likes to use numbers to try and suggest a narrative. The company used a similar approach last week when it confirmed to an outlet that there’s now 5,000 Android TV apps in circulation.
A number which sounds grand, as long as you don’t (a) compare it to the number of Android apps that could be running on the platform or (b) focus on the high-profile, video-centric apps that are still missing from the video-centric platform.
It is the same case here. As long as you don’t focus on the influx of new devices running a new version of Android TV, or the lack of updates by third-party device-makers, then it would seem Android TV adoption is going well.
In other Android TV news, a new Play Store and one-click subscriptions are coming.