UPDATE: North American Android KitKat, 4.1.1 Usage Rates in Wake of "Heartbleed" Vulnerability

UPDATE: North American Android KitKat, 4.1.1 Usage Rates in Wake of "Heartbleed" Vulnerability

  • 15 April 2014

UPDATE (4/15/14): With Android 4.1.1 being the only version of Android exhibiting a vulnerability due to the Open SSL “Heartbleed” bug, Chitika Insights examined how North American Web traffic from Android 4.1 users breaks down by patch release.

In terms of date range for this analysis, we studied North American Android 4.1 Web traffic cataloged on our network between April 7 and 13, 2014.

Over that seven-day time period, Android 4.1.1 users generated 19% of total North American Android 4.1 Web traffic, with users of version 4.1.2 generating an 81% share. Web traffic from devices running Android 4.1.0 made up less than 0.1% of the Android 4.1 total observed, so we did not include for the purposes of clarity. For some context, looking past the breakdowns of our original study from April 11, 2014, Android 4.1 users generate 25.4% of North American Android Web traffic overall. As such, at 19% of North American Android 4.1 Web traffic, version 4.1.1 users represent over 4% of total continental Android Web traffic.

As a note, these data points were initially provided to Charles Arthur of The Guardian, who utilized the data as part of his larger analysis of the issue.

ORIGINAL POST (4/11/14): Recent Web usage data indicates that Google’s latest Android OS version, KitKat, is being used at nearly equal rates by North American smartphone and tablet users. Meanwhile, Jelly Bean usage rates, while relatively consistent in aggregate between North American smartphones and tablets, do vary significantly in terms of minor versions (i.e. version 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3).

To quantify Android version distribution by device type, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian Android-based online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used within the analysis were drawn from impressions catalogued between March 31 and April 6, 2014.

As seen in the above graph, 10% of North American smartphone Web traffic is generated by KitKat users. In total, Jelly Bean (versions 4.1 through 4.3) claims the largest usage share with 55.2%, with version 4.1 holding a plurality overall at 23.7%. Likely thanks to lower-end Android devices,  20.3% of Android smartphone Web traffic is still coming from Gingerbread – an OS version last updated in 2011.

Moving on to tablets, the most glaring similarity is the KitKat usage rate, which at 10.6% is only 0.6 percentage points ahead of the North American smartphone share. Beyond that, the most prominent differences between the two data sets are the larger shares for Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean 4.1, and Jelly Bean 4.2, and the corresponding smaller shares for Gingerbread and Jelly Bean 4.3.

Like any version of Android, availability on a given device is primarily determined by two factors - the system requirements of the update, and an individual carrier’s rollout plans. The latter condition means that some eligible Android devices may not receive a prompt to update until weeks or months following launch. This stands in contrast to iOS updates, which Apple is able to push out to all of its users on the same day.

The importance of version and corresponding feature fragmentation on Android has been a long-debated issue by mobile app and Web developers. While the current level of consistency between device types in terms of KitKat usage rates may be a bit of welcome news in this regard, feature fragmentation is likely to remain a major consideration for developers barring a major change in the Android business model. Additionally, looking beyond the device type breakdown, on a wider scale, KitKat has not progressed quite as quickly as Jelly Bean in North America from an adoption perspective. We previously observed Jelly Bean users generating 13.6% of North American Android Web traffic approximately 24 weeks following its debut on the Nexus 7. This overall number is 10.1% for KitKat as of this study, close to 22 weeks following its release on the Nexus 5.