The latest usage data point to KitKat users generating more than one third of all Android smartphone Web traffic within the U.S. and Canada. This is a jump of more than 25 percentage points since our previous study conducted in early April 2014, and makes KitKat the second-most heavily used major Android OS version on North American smartphones next to Jelly Bean.
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 May 26 and June 1, 2014.
The growth in KitKat usage rates on North American smartphones is likely the product of a number of developments over the past several months. Google has released Android 4.4.x updates to a wide variety of devices, including the three most recent Samsung Galaxy S smartphones. Samsung users as a whole represent the largest percentage Android smartphone Web traffic in North America, with Galaxy S models being the majority of that total.
Aside from Samsung, KitKat upgrades were also made available to newer devices from HTC and Motorola, helping to broaden the reach of the new OS version. Motorola in particular has been aggressive in getting its devices on the latest Android version, as can be seen below. Here, we illustrate what percentage of each manufacturer’s North American smartphone Web traffic is driven by KitKat users.
Google understandably has the largest percentage here, as its Nexus smartphones ship with the latest Android version and are the first in line to receive subsequent OS updates. However, while Samsung lags behind several competitors in KitKat usage rates from a percentage standpoint, in terms of volume, the manufacturer is easily the largest driver of Android 4.4.x Web traffic in the U.S. and Canada.
58% of all North American smartphone-based KitKat Web traffic is generated by Samsung users, with 25% coming solely from Galaxy S4 devices. While Samsung itself may be setting the stage to at least partially break away from Android with its own Tizen OS, the present situation presents a lot of value to developers looking to take advantage of the capabilities of Android 4.4 without sacrificing a sizable portion of the potential user base. Based on historical data, this is likely to continue to get better with future Android versions.