There's something really wrong with Android Marshmallow


... People are not getting it.

No, not as in, it's too complex an issue, but literally: they're not getting it on their devices. According to the latest official stats, courtesy of Google, the latest major iteration of the platform is installed on a paltry number of all the devices on the planet.

Ten months after it was first made official, and nine months since we've started getting install data on it. Kind of... depressing.

The data


Since mid-2012, Google's Android Developer website has been publishing monthly data on the versions of Android the installed base is currently on. With two lapses—October of 2014 and July of 2015—we've had monthly updates for the last 4 years or so. Of course, Google's charts are constantly updated as well, which is why we had to jump into the web archives and suffer a few hours until we were able to get a snapshot from each of the past 48 months that it's been available. It took a while, but it was worth it: even our boldest predictions proved incredibly optimistic.

Turns out, there's really something wrong with Android Marshmallow:


As you can see, 9 months after Google first started reporting on Marshmallow, the latest and greatest is only available to... 13.3% of users. That's a shockingly low number, and our data proves it. Consider this:

  • By the 9th month, Lollipop was installed on 23.5% of all devices (76.7% better)
  • By the 9th month, KitKat was installed on 20.9% of all devices (57.1% better)
  • By the 9th month, Jelly Bean was installed on 25% of all devices (88% better)

Our napkin calculations tell us that on its 9th month, Marshmallow is on 73.9% devices less than previous major updates on average.

What the heck is going on?

The surprising bit


Major Android updates have become pretty consistent in that a new one pops up in the last trimester of each year ever since Android KitKat. Given how manufacturers have been similarly consistent with the release windows of their respective devices, it's reasonable to assume that the slow adoption of Marshmallow isn't because these are yet to hit the market. Quite frankly, with the exception of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, most of the expected Android device of the year are already on the market, or soon to be released.

Even if we assume that Motorola's impending launch of its Moto Z family will be a success, along with the Note 7, there's no reason to believe that these will significantly impact overall Marshmallow adoption—after all, there are over a billion active Android devices. Even if it does, we're still extremely skeptical that the Marshmallow indicators will suddenly rally to match previous major versions.

What's going on?


Quite frankly... we don't really know.

It could be that manufacturers are taking it easier on their efforts to bring the latest to their customers, or it could be that Marshmallow is just a technically challenging update to implement for their respective (and proprietary) software. Alternatively, this might be explained by a widespread holdout on new purchases, meaning that the installed Android base at large is simply at a point where a smartphone update is not yet desired.

Or, drawing on the last, it could be an indication that smartphones in the last few years have gotten much better—so much better that it's increasingly hard to rationalize another purchase. After all, if your KitKat phone is running fluidly and its camera is performing well, it's easy to imagine that you'd stick to it for a while longer. Perhaps a buying craze will characterize the coming holiday period, as many of us decide it's finally time to upgrade?

Again, we don't know. We simply speculate.

YOU, you've got some hidden insight? Do oblige us and let us know in the comment section.

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80 Comments

1. ButWhole

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 14, 2016

The clickbaitiest title of them all, nice job.

29. Mxyzptlk unregistered

It's fragmentation. Plain and simple. The problem with Android fans is that they don't want to accept the reality of things.

30. tedkord

Posts: 17311; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The problem with trolls (like yourself) is you don't want to accept that users really don't care that much. You desperately want it to be a problem, but it just isn't. It's fallen as flat as your crusade to make "gapgate" a major issue.

32. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Denial doesn't change a thing, tedkord. Why spend money on that shiny new super phone if it doesn't get the latest Android update?

34. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

lol, I don't know why don't you ask the rest of the world why they would rather hold onto Windows XP and Windows 7 over going to Windows 8 or 10 even when the update is free.... I guess that a user's individual preference is more important to them than what you think is best for them.... OH SH*T! Someone used logic to put you in your place! Time for you to deflect!

45. Mxyzptlk unregistered

So you don't have a proper response? Understood.

71. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

My response being... You put so much emphasis on fragmentation and think it's a user's problem. It's not. Users buy phones they want for reasons that suit them best. If they want the latest OS, they go with Nexus, if they want a killer battery, the go with a Droid. If they want the best hardware, they go with Galaxy. You make the mistake of thinking that everyone cares about what OS is on their phone, that's simply not true. The example I made in post 34 (and it would appear that many agree with me) is that millions of people the world over feel that having the latest version of an OS comes second to something else, and I used Windows desktop OS as a primary example of this. This is where the vast number of available options for an Android device becomes a massive strength over what Apple offers. You can cry about fragmentation all you like around here, but you're the only one who cares, people who like Samsung will continue to buy Samsung, people who like HTC will continue to buy HTC, people who like LG will continue to buy LG. And your lunatic ravings of fragmentation will fall on deaf ears because you're the only one who cares about an issue that is Google's problem, not the end user.

46. sgodsell

Posts: 7211; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It's because Android Marshmallow was released much later. Remember the AOSP didn't receive it until this year 2016. Also the problem with the Android dashboard is they get stats from devices hitting Google's Play store. So places like India and China that roll their own handsets tend to not upgrade that fast. Some of their devices are so inexpensive that they expect their users to upgrade to another device instead of updating the software. Clearly there is a problem with the OEMs. It's not Google's Android that is the problem. It's the OEMs and the carrier's that feel they need to put their crap on the versions of Android. As far as Mxyzptlk it's well known that you only come to Android articles and trash Google and Android.

62. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I don't care about the title. It's the point that matters and Android fans need to stop deflecting and throwing their heads into the sand every time someone criticizes Android.

80. iushnt

Posts: 3086; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Because some of us are ready to use any android then the competition it there

81. iushnt

Posts: 3086; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Than*

36. PhoneFixer unregistered

I didn't plan to update to lolipop b4.. Best was 4.4.2 or. 4.4.4... Now am on 5.0 and 5.1

54. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

The problem is that Marshmallow kills phones. I had it on my G3 all of two months before it finally fried last Friday. Now AT&T is sending me a G5 as replacement and I'm pissed (because that means no root possible and no more Viper audio for me) yuck.

58. GPGON

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 15, 2016

how'd it fry your phone?

66. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

After installing Marshmallow my phone ran "smoother" but much hotter than before. I didn't play games or do anything much intensive but even then, after 2 months of this "regular use" torture, it died. This is not an isolated incident, there are many reports of Marshmallow causing random restarts, boot loops, and hardware failure, especially in the LG G series phones... >:(

69. crzykiller

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 03, 2015

This I don't believe. Just because a phone is running warm doesn't mean it's gonna die. I used to game a lot on my phones, where CPU/GPU temperatures would reach 80°C easily and also used to charge play games which is even worse. Never had a phone die because of heating and I've even disabled thermal throttling on some phones which allowed once the S800 in the LGG2 (over clocked to like 2.7ghz) hit 120°C and shut off. The phone was fine and booted fine.

68. JoshN

Posts: 202; Member since: Apr 01, 2015

My Samsung Tab S2 8.0 just told me this morning that Android 6.0 has arrived have any other Tab S2 updated, water are your comments ☺ should I do it or wait ???

33. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Did your iPhone wife make you say this? Does your post make her feel like she's a better phone now? Because she's not.

40. Podrick

Posts: 1284; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

As Greenman said few days on an article a few days ago, when something has over 80% of marketshare and thousands of OEMs like Android, fragmentation is quite acceptable. A very large portion of Android phones are entry level Chinese and local brands. It would be stupid to expect them to get iPhone like updates. Those 50-100 dollar phones will forever stay on the OS they launched with. Not supporting fragmentation by any means, mid range and flagship smartphones atleast from the big OEMs should get better support and updates than they're getting now. They're getting better every year but still not good enough aside from Nexus.

52. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Why bring up android fans isheep?

72. michaelny2001

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

To answer the writer of the article... What is wrong? I'll tell you what. Most people buy their phones on contract a very small percentage buys the phone outright. So in the US, if ATT doesn't update my Note 4, i am stuck on lollipop. WOul di upgrade right away if available? Absolutely! Same happens with Canada's Roger, 3, etc. Same in Europe... Besided don't ever compare Ios to Android unless you're comparing iphone to Nexus. Anything else is a disgrace of a comparison. So Google releases marshmallaw, Samsung waits 6 months to release their own version of it (lame) then ATT/Verizon, etc wait another 5 months to update and voila! Another year passes by and now we have Nutmeg or whatever the heck it will be called next. There you go, this is why adoption rate is low. Plus phones nowadays are made great, no need to update a phone every 8 months, just to get the newer system. Apple will push it to all of its divices unless they are 3-4 years old. This should sum it up.

77. JUST-ROOTIT

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 20, 2016

One mxyzptlx your a troll. 2 your obviously an iphone lover. Thats not a bad thing but this post is right. My father in law is a software engineer for google. And in the script of the rom. Read only file. You can tell its been biult around nexus. With that being said. All other phones. Including samsung. Will not technically run it right. It runs. But not like it should. Theres evidence such as when the gs4 got the lollipop. It screwed it up something.fierce Now lg is the worst when it comes to this problem. Im not dogging on them. Im using an lg stylo h631 unrooted. And since ive got android m my phone runs like sh!t and thats why i downgraded it back to 5.1.1 L. The lg v10 as well as the g4 "Not sure on the g5" also have problems with android m. The point is just cause you have the newest update dosent mean you should jump on it

39. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Alright new guy.... or girl, you had better live up to your user name on this site!

43. Elfmonster unregistered

Who clicked thumbs on on this? The story isn't clickbait. I will never go back to Apple but the abandonment of Android OS updates is a systematic decision by corporations to trick people into buying newer phones, pure and simple, and that is repugnant. Also repugnant is Google not offering a side upload for us to officially root and upgrade older Android phones (and by older I mean even just a year old, since manufacturers abandon phones and tablets from the get go, including fing Samsung). There is one solution to this. Android must offer free rooting and OS upgrades through a website. But Google won't do this of course until a rival pops up and takes a big chunk of their market, just as Nintendo gave way to PS which gave way to Xbox which gave way to PS. These corporations only truly improve customer experience when they fall behind.

76. Niva.

Posts: 440; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

Calm down. Google does have a line of devices that they support, it's called Nexus. If you don't buy a Nexus phone you're signing up to being shafted by manufacturers that Google has absolutely no control over. It's that simple. Get Nexus, or get bent.

50. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

It's a 2 part issue. one part is that the carriers and manufacturers have too much flexibility with the OS. I just FINALLY got my Verizon update for my Note 4. That's insane! The OS should be able to be updated in a similar manner as iOS. The 2nd part is most people just don't care. I know several people that have Andriod phones with the software update available and they just decline it constantly. When I ask why, I get a shrug. I don't understand this logic, but I'm a techie.

2. Hama22

Posts: 60; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

it's simple, u know what's wrong? it's not that people don't buy new phones it's that they buy the ones with the worst software support simple as that! Oppo doesn't have a single model on MM and heck they're selling like crazy, the 'new' Vivo X7 which runs on Lollipop sold 250,000 units in one day but the excellent HTC 10 will struggle to sell a million this year! Google has been doing a great job providing Android One phones in many different countries but sales are so poor it hurts, it's just that for a big part of customers things like the number of megapixels on the front camera are more important than the Android version so...

38. PhoneFixer unregistered

And it is NOT because of that what you said.. It is simply googles fault.. They leaving it to end user to manually install it.. Many ppl will NEVER do it and many has no idea.. If they would do annoying prompts as apple does plus stop signing old android to install or downgrade then it would be all MM.. But obviously many brands using android so it is up to them.. And another thing.. Ppl (especially 15 year old boys kiddos) are brainwashed with "updates" they naively thinks that when they uodate it will be better.. No it won't be any better.. B4 when we had num.pad phones nobody beed bothered about any updates.. It worked.. And there is nothing wrong with older android versions.. It just does the job

3. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

If you want true Android experience you need buy Nexus phones.

5. aikoo

Posts: 129; Member since: Feb 27, 2016

I'm struggling to find the point of this click-baited article...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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