Android Lollipop has finally risen to top of the Android candy chain.
After playing second fiddle to KitKat for more than a year, Lollipop has taken the lead by expanding onto 36.1 percent of all Android devices, according to the latest stats served up by Google’s Android Developer Dashboard. The new number is up from 34.1 percent a month ago. At the same time, KitKat’s share of Android devices was gnawed to 34.3 percent, down from 35.5 percent last month.
The data provided by Google reflects the volume of Android devices that visited the Google Play store over the seven-day period ending on March 7.
Lollipop was released in November 2014, while KitKat debuted in November 2013. Why did it take so long for Lollipop to reach the top of the charts?
The slow growth rate for an Android operating system is a side effect of the awkward and often exasperating upgrade process. After Google cooks up a new version of Android, smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers must test it before they can plan and perform a rollout for each mobile device. That means Android users often have to wait months to receive the latest version.
In contrast, Apple’s system for updating its iOS software is much faster and simpler since the company controls the whole process from start to finish. Apple also has to contend with just three devices — the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — while Android is swamped by hundreds of devices from different manufacturers, each of which goes through its own individual upgrade.
The latest flavor of Android, dubbed Marshmallow, has been suffering its own growing pangs. Launched last November, Marshmallow now is on 2.3 percent of all Android devices. That may seem small, but it’s double the 1.2 percent level reported last month. Android device makers, such as Samsung and Sony, have been pushing out Marshmallow, with more on tap to do so over the coming months.
Among other varieties of Android, Jelly Bean saw its slice drop to 22.3 percent from 23.9 percent. Older versions of Android, including Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread, stayed on the charts with shares of 2.3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Even Froyo, which was released in 2010, remained alive with its usual 0.1 percent share. Older Android devices often are not supported by later editions of the operating system, a limitation that keeps them locked into running the same version forever.