Android Versions by The Millions

Last month I blogged about the missing market share progress graph that Google used to publish. And also provided some extra graphs based on the collected data, with much interesting facts to extract from them. I updated these data/graphs with the latest Play Store stats. But there was something significant missing and what really matters for app developers: how many actual people are on the versions, in millions.

To get this information, we need to know how many active users there are. We never had this information until Google I/O 2014 where Sundar Pichai announced that there are 1 billion users active on the Play Store at that time. The other regular piece of information I could find was the quarterly worldwide shipment of Android devices since 2010 up to April 2014. Using this data and a lifetime of 18 months for each shipped device, I managed to reconstruct the progression in millions of active devices and get to the 1 billion number we have now. The math may not be all sound, but in the end the growth is pretty linear from the beginning and the milestones from each IO keynote seem to coincide (number of activation vs active device). All these data are added to the original spreadsheet in the page "Active Users".

Given these grossly accurate data I could build the graph of each version progression in millions of users, not just in market share.

The road to 1 billion has been pretty linear. The last quarter global shipment are unknown yet. And they also take in account an explosive growth in China where the Play Store is not available.

Another interesting graph, and the real information I was looking for is how many users are currently using each API.

To compare with the original one

You can see the story is very different.
  • KitKat was the fastest growing platform in recent Android history and it's showing even more by million of users. If the growth continue like that it may reach 300 million users in the next 3/4 months. Before Android L comes out.
  • Although API v16 has been slowly declining for a while, the platform was still growing and so the number of users was still growing, the market share alone is not a good indicator. The number of users are in free fall though, despite still being the dominant API.
  • API v10 has still 140 millions of active users, these are not Chinese users.
  • There were never more Ice Cream Sandwich users than Gingerbread users. It topped 200 millions, compared to 300 millions for Gingerbread.
  • The growth of API v17 is more significant when taking in account the amount of users, it's still growing well.
  • On the other hand, API v18 is still not very meaningful in the number of users.
  • There are still 7 million users using v8.
The good news is that supporting v17 and up gives you a very good amount of users. But failing to support v10 or v15 gives 250 million more potential users to your competitors.

We can assume that in the next 3 or 4 months v10 and v15 will drop below 100 million users each. And v19 should reach 250 to 300 million users and might have more users than v17.