Should Android developers target Android 2.0 and the Droid?

A year ago the Android ecosystem was pretty simple: there was one device, one operating system version, and developers knew exactly what they were building for. Android has come a long way and today there are a number of Android devices available with many more expected. One device that is now getting a lot of attention is the new Motorola Droid, which will be introduced on Verizon’s network tomorrow.

While this excitement bodes well for the future of Android, it leaves mobile application developers wondering how quickly the Droid and especially Android 2.0 will be widely adopted. To explore this, we looked at the mobile application usage of 20,000 Android handsets over the last week to determine the breakdown of users by phone and by Android OS. We have also used these data to make some predictions on device uptake over the next few months.


Device Breakdown

Our data shows that a typical Android mobile app today should see the following breakdown of devices across their user base:

Localytics device use pie chart 2009

There are some interesting takeaways:

  • More than half of Android users don’t have a physical keyboard (G2 and Hero users), meaning it is critical that app makers design and test their UI for real touch-only devices.
  • The G2 has only been available for half a year in Europe and a few months in the US and has almost as many active users as the much older G1.
  • The Hero has also seen rapid adoption. While the Hero has only been around for a few months (in Europe since June and the US since October), it has already grabbed a sizable portion of the user base (20%).


Android Operating System Version

Between Android 1.5 (Cupcake), Android 1.6 (Donut), and Android 2.0 (Éclair), many developers are confused about which OS version customers are actually using. Our data show that a majority of users quickly upgraded to Android 1.6:

Some observations:

  • The G1, G2, and Cliq/Dext (which make up 74% of users) are still being sold with 1.5 (Cupcake). That 1.6 (Donut) has a majority (56% of users) indicates accepting high acceptance of over-the-air OS updates, which were pushed out starting in September 2009.
  • Not shown above, Donut’s 56% is almost evenly split up among two versions (DRC92 = 29%, DRC83 = 27%)


So what to target?

Today, the most common Android app-users have a touch-screen only handset running OS 1.6 (Donut), making this a safe base case to target. Furthermore, based on uptake of the G2 and the Hero, Android users are adopting new handsets very rapidly.

One probable reason for the Hero’s success is that it was the first device available in the U.S. on a carrier other than T-Mobile, so any Sprint users interested in an Android device jumped aboard. There is no reason to believe the same thing won’t happen with Verizon’s customers with the Motorola Droid. This, coupled with the fact that Verizon has been very aggressively marketing the new device, leads us to expect that Droid owners will make up a significant chunk of Android users in a relatively short time frame!

(Expect to see some updated charts following the Droid and other new devices (such as the Dext/Cliq) over the next few weeks!)

Search the blog

Henry is the Co-founder and CTO at Localytics. He loves cars and his dog, Thane.