New Android Distribution Chart Released As Google Changes To Counting Active Users

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 7.54.29 PM

We look forward to Google’s Android distribution each month to see just how much growth the newest Android releases gain. Starting in April, we’re going to see a whole different way of keeping track of devices as the developer team announced via Google+.

The new device dashboards are based on the devices of users who visit the Google Play Store (rather than devices that have checked-in to Google servers). As a result, the dashboards more accurately reflect the users most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem—and thus most likely to download and use your apps.

Up until April’s chart, distribution numbers were calculated based on devices checking-in to Google servers, but now numbers will be based on vista to Google’s Play Store. The result Google says is a more accurate reflection of the users actually engaged in the Android ecosystem and “thus most likely to download and use your apps.”¬†With the changes in place, the new numbers show a large jump in Jelly Bean use (Android 4.1+) to 25% from 16.5% from March. The changes also helped lower the number of devices running Froyo and Gingerbread down 3.6% and 4%, respectively.

Now, there are some differing minds interpreting Google’s changes wondering whether these numbers don’t help Google “game” the system a little. For developers, it’s definitely a help as they get a clearer look at the various types of Android and where the users are with hardware. In other words, developers will have a better opportunity to concentrate their efforts on where the most active users are, and not where the most users were hitting Google’s servers. The flip side is that Google’s competitors have often used these numbers as a way to attack Android’s “fragmentation” issue. With these changes, Google eliminates some of the competitive freedom to hit them, so it’s a win-win for the Goog.

Android Developers, Google+ Android Developers


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  • MaseW

    I don’t think that there is any gaming of the system going on. The new metrics show the information that is important to developers that will be releasing their app in the Play Store. If a device doesn’t have access to the Play Store, it is of no interest to a developer. If their application is running on a device that does not have access to the Play Store, it’s a pretty safe assumption that it was pirated.

    There are “other” Android app stores, and it would be the responsibility of those stores to provide the same information, to developers looking to release in their stores.

    This is just a case of a more useful metric having a positive, PR related side effect.

  • Paul

    DONUT?!?! That’s actually on the list?!

    Well, it’s disappointing when the affordable devices are running older Android.

    • Dakota

      Most people I see using android phones aren’t that educated about it and have no idea what version they have. They’ve never even heard of things like ICS or jb…. And realize new devices keep being sold with older versions and many if those people will be stuck on those for 2+years

      • WW

        I think that’s a better description of iOS, BB & WP users than Android users. On average, Android users are more tech savvy than users of the other major smartphone OS’s though it’s a little like saying the average number of fingers on all humans is below 10 per person (true but barely).

    • TechHog

      There are no new phones running Donut. Budget phones usually have either Gingerbread or ICS.

  • zx6guy

    As long as they footnote the presentation of the data I’m cool.

  • Dakota

    Lot of people don’t regularly download apps so the numbers won’t show what’s really going on but maybe that’s not the point as these numbers are more for developers…just hope journalists report it accurately

    • NicholasMcGhee

      Its not just based on who physically goes into the Play Store. If you have automatic updates on for your apps, then your phone is constantly accessing the store to check for updates. Thus making you one of the people on this chart. And most people, when initially downloading apps, set them for auto update from my experiences.

  • steveb944

    I like this new method. Some of my family, less technically inclined, don’t EVER go in the Play Store, I have to go in for them and download whatever they need.

    Imagine for people that are in the same boat but don’t have anyone to show them, they no longer will affect the numbers.

    Bravo Google

  • TechHog

    Well, incoming Apple fanboys. :/

  • sino8r

    Might as well throw Cupcake or hell RC33 on the list too. No one is selling even the most basic phones for anything less than 2.2 (GB). Same with development… All apps ALWAYS say for 2.2 and above. This pie is to make Google look better. And no, I don’t own any apple products…

    • sino8r

      I meant 2.3.. My bad

  • 16309

    If I understand, in the future they base the numbers on use of Google Play. But when you get a new phone isn’t one of the first things you do is hit the play store and start loading in your apps? So won’t this skew the numbers in favor of the newer os? Or am I not understanding this correctly and my stupidity is showing? ;)

    • TechHog

      A little, but most people have app auto-updating on. Those that don’t are barely using their device, so who cares about them? The only people who care are those who want to continue with the tired, overblown argument of fragmentation. Other OS’s don’t release numbers period.