There’s always been a kind of paradox at the heart of the Android ecosystem: it’s the dominant smartphone OS, but its users don’t dominate the mobile Internet. Mobile browser and Internet usage numbers don’t line up with handset market share.
Google has always promoted its raw Android activation numbers as a way to show momentum (and boast vs. Apple). However, now that it has essentially won the market share contest, it’s starting to focus on different metrics that are more meaningful — a substantial percentage of Android users are relatively “passive” when it comes to apps and the mobile Internet.
The company will no longer be simply counting raw activation numbers. It’s going to highlight more engaged users in terms of OS version share. Google said the following on its Android developer dashboard:
Beginning in April, 2013, these charts are now built using data collected from each device when the user visits the Google Play Store. Previously, the data was collected when the device simply checked-in to Google servers. We believe the new data more accurately reflects those users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem.
Casual or “passive” Android users are essentially worthless to developers and almost worthless to Google itself. The data below reflect the distribution of more engaged Android users who visit the Google Play store.
Most Android users are now on Ice Cream Sandwich. However, the Jelly Bean (most recent version of Android) numbers are gaining and now represent 25 percent of all “active” Android handsets in the market.