Engadget reports that the KitKat version of Android, also known as Android 4.4 is only available on 1.1% of active Android devices, according to the Android Platform Versions Developer Dashboard. There are two aspect of this statistic that are interesting:
- The Chikita advertising network estimated that iOS 7 was available on 51% of all active iOS devices one week after the September 18, 2013 release. (Update: The Loop reports that as of December 1, iOS 7 is now deployed on 74%, according to Apple, Inc.)
- Engadget considers 1.1% adoption of KitKat to be a success. Jon Fingas wrote, "KitKat may be the new kid on the Android block, but it's already faring quite well. Google's latest OS dashboard reveals that 1.1 percent of active Android devices are running the new platform roughly a month after it became available. Not that its arrival is slowing down Jelly Bean's growth, mind you. The older software now represents 54.5 percent of all Android use, thanks in part to a two-point surge in devices running Android 4.3."
It isn't politically correct to say that Android operating system update adoption rates are incredibly low. In defense of the people who love using it, the operating system isn't easy to update on most Android phones, and mobile phone carriers play a significant role in update availability for most Android phones, which is not the case for iOS on the iPhone at all.
Nevertheless, the need to support multiple older versions of Android has to be a big impediment to investment in application support for advanced features of that phone operating system. If you are an Android developer, supporting Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat still only allows you to run on 74.3% of all active Android phones.
Update: It turns out that what I said above isn't technically true. According to a comment from derekmorr on The Loop, "Many of the new APIs are released in a support library which works on older versions. Google Play Services updates automatically on older devices, so the Google APIs are available as well. Aside from that, good code structure helps. Really, it isn't a problem in most cases."
Credit for the comparison of adoption metrics to Jim Dalrymple, The Loop, iOS 7 adoption rate outpacing iOS 6. His main comment about KitKat adoption rates was, "When you release a new version of your OS, the older version should drop, not gain in popularity."
Our emphasis is on the Android aspects of the comparison, not on iOS.