Firmware Over The Air Updates
After an exhaustive search through research reports, news releases, annual reports, and public databases, the number of Android users that perform Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) updates in the US could not be determined. However, it has been found that Android manufacturers release an average of 24 major updates across all their devices. The findings, as well as the strategy used for this research, are available below. A Google spreadsheet that summarizes information on the number of major firmware updates that Android manufacturers typically release for their devices has also been attached to this research.
FIRMWARE OVER-THE-AIR UPDATES IN THE US
- Google is the quickest to release FOTA updates to the latest version of Android among Android device manufacturers.
- Over 75% of all Pixel users have already updated to the latest version of Android.
- Data suggests that Google, OnePlus, and Nokia are Android manufacturers that are most likely to release FOTA updates to their devices.
- Android manufacturers are likely to release at least one major update for each of the devices that they release.
- The average Android manufacturer releases around 24 major updates across all the devices that they release.
To determine the number of Android users that perform FOTA updates in the US, we first searched through industry-relevant research reports and public databases such as Statista and StatCounter for statistics on the adoption rate of new Android updates as they are publicly released in the US. We were able to find the market share of the different Android versions in the US, however, this number is also inclusive of Android phones that were already on the specified version out-of-the-box — this means no update was done on those phones. We searched through news releases from credible sites such as The Verge and ComputerWorld. We were able to find information on how quickly Android manufacturers released updates for the latest Android version and the percentage of the Google Pixel userbase that have already updated to Android Pie. While the latter provides us with some information, this number is not specific to the US and only applies to Google Pixel users. Thus, no data relevant to this research was gathered through this strategy.
We then attempted to triangulate the approximate number of Android users that perform FOTA updates by determining which Android manufacturers are likely to release these updates and finding the number of people in the US that owns the phones that they release. We were able to find that Google, OnePlus, and Nokia are the Android manufacturers that are most likely to release FOTA updates frequently based on their history of releasing updates for their devices and the number of updates that they have already released for their Android devices, however, this is only for major updates — it does not include security patches that a manufacturer might have released via FOTA updates.
A further search revealed a list of incoming firmware patches for Samsung, however, this list only includes the latest firmware patches — each phone model must be checked for past firmware updates. Other lists of firmware updates for other Android manufacturers found were similar to this and compiling a complete list of firmware updates for each manufacturer would be out-of-scope for this research, therefore, we opted to use data on major firmware updates for the triangulation for this research. Since the metric found uses data on the phones that companies have released in the past three years, we attempted to search for the number of people in the US that uses the phones that Google, OnePlus, and Nokia have released in the same period. We looked through news releases from sites such as TechCrunch; research reports from sites such as Allied Market Research and Pew Research Center; and public databases such as Statista and StatCounter. We were able to find that there are about 200,000 OnePlus owners in the US, however, not information could be gathered to properly triangulate for the requested data.
Finally, we attempted to look through the annual reports of Google, OnePlus, and Nokia. This was done under the assumption that these reports may reveal insights on how many of their users update their devices. We were able to find that OnePlus has 1.8 million users around the world, however, no relevant insight was found from any of the annual reports. Since the frequency of FOTA updates an Android user would perform is dependent on the availability of FOTA updates released by Android manufacturers for their devices, we have reported the average number of major firmware updates that Android manufacturers release for each of their devices as well as compiled information on the number of major firmware updates they release across all their devices on a Google spreadsheet.