updated 10:30 am EDT, Tue May 4, 2010
Only third of Android phones up to date
Less than a third of Android phones are using the most recent version of the OS, Google has revealed in its latest platform versions data. About 32.4 percent are using Android 2.1, but an even larger 37.2 percent are still using Android 1.5. Another 29.4 percent are still using Android 1.6, and exactly 1 percent are using older or in-between versions like Android 1.1 and 2.0.
The split contrasts sharply with iPhone OS distribution, where 90 percent use iPhone 3.1 and just 5 percent use a significantly older OS version.
Android's distribution has been a regular problem for Google as it has locked a significant portion of devices out of newer apps and features, such as Google Maps Navigation and the official Twitter app. Much of the stratification comes from companies like HTC and Motorola customizing the interface and making it difficult to implement new OS updates on time. The phones quickest to move to Android 2.1 have been those using the stock Android interface, such as the Droid and Nexus One.
Google is aiming to unify updates in the future by allowing component updates outside of the OS, but the current environment has created "orphan" phones such as the Samsung Galaxy that may never get updates even though they are less than a year old. Apple has only just begun dropping support for certain iPhones after three years with news that iPhone 4.0 won't recognize first-generation models due to hardware limits.