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Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich may have been released last year, but it’s taking its sweet time making its rounds across the gamut of Android devices on the market. It’s become standard operating procedure for Android OS releases, which tend to start out slow as manufacturers and carriers shift their strategies around an ever-changing market. But while ICS was only on 1 percent of Android devices at the turn of the year, it’s making gains in recent months, reaching 2.9 percent, according to the latest numbers from Google. Honeycomb isn’t that much further ahead, with just over 3 percent of the market.
The dominant Android OS version remains 2.3.x Gingerbread, with just under 70 percent market share. It takes a while for a full turnaround in Android OS distribution, as we’ve seen in the past three years. Compared to a year ago, Android 2.2 was still the top version, though Honeycomb 3.0 was a measly 0.2 percent. It seems the tablet-ready versions in particular are having a hard time keeping up, and staggered roll-outs from device makers only enhances Android’s fragmentation.
The economics and allure of Android
But Google still benefits from its diverse device market, if only by a margin. The search giant makes just $1.70 a year per Android device, compared to the $575 Apple makes for every iOS device. The data comes from 2011 numbers, analyzed by Asymco’s Horace Dediu. Of course, Google doesn’t manufacture or sell its own devices (yet), generating the bulk of its revenue from advertising, and even makes a pretty penny from its presence on iOS devices as well. And while Deidu recognizes Android isn’t the most profitable business for Google just yet, he concludes it’s not a bad business either.
That not-so-bad Android business is something Oracle is certainly after, having brought a lawsuit against Google for its use of Java. The case, which failed to settle out of court and will go to trial April 16th, was the topic of Dediu’s analysis. Oracle’s long running dispute with Google over Java patents alleged misuse on Android could’ve ended with a couple years of royalty payments. But as Oracle’s placed the Android business model at the center of this lawsuit, it’s holding out for Google’s bigger fish.