Android’s Marshmallow Dilemma – Slow Growth and Another Release On the Way

Android’s latest OS version – Marshmallow – has been adopted at a steady pace, albeit a lot slower than their most popular release, Android 4.4 KitKat.


In the seven-day period ending on June 6, 2016, Android Marshmallow breached a significant level of ten percent of active devices. In and of itself, it is of little consequence, but the comparative view of seven generations of Android operating systems gives us tremendous insight into the popularity of each upgrade.

The stats themselves come from Google, which gathers the data by counting the number of devices that are running the latest Google Play app; as such, it is not a completely accurate representation of usage metrics, but it’s as close as we can get.

The adoption of a new operating system typically takes on the following curve:


From a timeline perspective, the adoption of new technology is getting faster as we progress into the 21st century. Electricity, for example, took nearly 50 years to be widely accepted as a mainstream technology. In contrast, smartphones took a tenth of that time, spreading like wildfire in less than 5 years.

In the case of Android’s operating systems, it would seem like new tech adoption is an annual affair, with one release or iteration announced nearly every year.

The fact that Marshmallow hasn’t been nearly as popular as KitKat, shows that the latter has gained much wider acceptance, and will probably remain that way until a forced upgrade on new devices comes along. Even the Lollipop has more fans when you consider both iterations combined – 5.0 and 5.1.

However, Android would do well to study what worked well in KitKat so future operating system versions don’t have to suffer the kind of growing pains that Marshmallow is going through. The upcoming Android N is the OS under the microscope right now, and is already available to developers for preview and testing. If the performance is anything like the lackluster marshmallow and its resulting poor adoption rate, Android might have to start thinking up some spicy names for future releases instead of distinctively sweet ones. Android Chili, anyone?