Once again, Google
The Platform Versions report on Android's site for developers now shows that 77% of all Android devices that accessed the Android Market in the past two weeks ran Android version 2.1 or 2.2. Dinosaur versions 1.5 and 1.6 are fading out as new handsets almost always come with newer software than that, and some older models are still receiving modern updates.
A relatively unified (OK, duofied -- between Eclair (versions 2.0 and 2.1) and Froyo (version 2.2) -- but I don't think that's a real word) platform is good for app developers who don't need to program workarounds for special cases, is good for users who can switch handsets and still be familiar with how the new one should work, and is good from Google's standpoint as a platform backer because it makes Android generally look all grown-up. Apple
And sometime in the next week or so, version 2.3 (or perhaps 3.0) codenamed Gingerbread will show up and restart the whole fragmentation debate again. The giant gingerbread man has already joined the dessert pantheon at the Googleplex.
The new version will supposedly be optimized for the larger screens of tablet computers (though a future tablet-specific Android version is supposedly being developed as well) and offer a better user interface; those were two of the major design directives going into the development cycle. Gingerbread will follow the example set by every other Android version so far with a slow uptake at first but then swift acceleration as mass-market products and over-the-air updates start rolling out.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.