Google’s mobile operating system gets a lot of grief for fragmentation. For better, worse and whatever comes after that, the platform is actually standardizing and rapidly so. In fact, a 55 percent and increasing share of active devices are running a version of Android that Google released two Christmases ago.
It was on December 6, 2010 that Google released Android 2.3. According to searchzilla’s official Android distribution data, the v2.3.3 (February 2011) variant is the most common version of the mobile operating system in the wild today, running on about 55 percent of the active devices.
The next largest share is held by Android 2.2, which can be found on roughly 30 percent of the active devices, and that’s followed by Android 2.1 with 8.5 percent — add up all of the 2.x users and you get 94.4 percent of the entire installed base.
That said, as Android API’s are forward compatible, in order to capture that 94.4 percent majority of users, developers (and malware authors) will want to write for Android 2.1, which was released way, way back on October 26, 2009.
The real opportunity
Our legitimate developer friends will quickly realize that means their apps will look and run like Android 2.1, lacking the user interface improvements and performance enhancements that Google has created since.
Hardware accelerated graphics? 2009. Touch control and interaction? 2009.
Those writing Android malware, which have been increasingly feeling their oats, will find it easier going. Not only is the v2.x codebase locked in time, whatever security updates are available don’t get pushed to users by the carriers.
Let your mind wander — tens of millions of hapless users locked in place and, as Android 2.3 adoption is still growing (new users on new two-year contracts), the target “audience” will grow by millions more.
So, who else thinks last year’s 472 percent Android malware growth is just the beginning?