Is It Really Acceptable That Ice Cream Sandwich Is Only On 5% Of Android Devices?

Every month the Android Developers release the Android distribution charts. These charts contain statistics on where Android is at, and one of the most important is what Android version is powering devices. Back in November of last year, Android 4.0 was released to manufacturers. Now, almost 6 months later, we learn that Android 4.0 is only on 5% of all Android devices with access to Google Play. That’s just disgusting.

After 6 months, half a year, centuries in phone time, and the latest version of Android only holds a small fraction of the market? Manufacturers, what is going on in your minds?

One could make the argument that Android 4.0 requires more time to get running on devices, and custom UIs just add to that. Sure, that’s understandable. But only for the first 4 months. 6 months in, I think that there is no excuse for a handset not being updated. On top of that, there’s still devices launching with Gingerbread as the version of Android. Why is there any reason that a handset should be launched with Gingerbread in this day and age?

To this date, there have only been a handful of high-end Android handsets updated to 4.0. The Galaxy S II line is getting it overseas, but even then only when carriers approve. We have just heard that Samsung Canada is rolling out the update to multiple devices, but we have no idea when every handset will be updated. Tablets have been a little better, with ASUS and Acer on top of their game, but oddly enough big manufacturer Samsung has mostly neglected the tablet market.

I love Android, but how can I buy a handset knowing that it could take 6+ months to get an update? This even applies to Nexus devices. It took months for the Nexus S to get bumped to Android 4.0, and the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon is also behind in getting its update. From my point of view, there is no Android handset that I could buy right now, knowing that it will not be updated promptly.

I used to spend plenty of time hacking and rooting my devices, and I’m very familiar with the process of flashing ROMs. With more popular phones, there’s usually a chance that you can get the latest update quicker through a custom ROM. The only problem is that 99% of the time, there isn’t a perfect ROM. One may get close, but then have a glaring bug that ruins the experience for me. On top of that, my life has become much more busy than it previously was, and I don’t want to have to worry about flashing custom ROMs.

I can’t see this changing in the future, and it has prevented me more than once from buying a handset. Does something like this affect your purchasing decisions?

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