The Jelly Bean version of Google's Android operating system is now installed on 52.1 percent of all Android smartphones and tablets, according to statistics from the Developer forum.
The statistic is a 11.6 percent increase on the 40.5 percent figure recorded in August. Despite the positive uptake, the majority of Jelly Bean users (37.3 percent) are still running the oldest 4.1 version. The forum says 12.5 percent are using the more recent 4.2 and just 2.3 percent are running the newest 4.3 version.
Below Jelly Bean the forum says Ice Cream Sandwich runs on nearly a fifth of all Android devices, with a 19.8 percent share of the user base.
The even older Gingerbread is still running on over a quarter of all Android devices, and is installed on 26.3 percent of all active Android smartphones and tablets. Despite Gingerbread's ongoing high user base the figure is a marked decrease from the 33.1 percent figure recorded in August.
The news comes just after Google unveiled its latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. The KitKat OS will come preinstalled on Google's latest flagship smartphone, the Nexus 5 and arrive on other devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the near future.
In the past security vendors have listed this fragmentation within the Android ecosystem as a key challenge to their efforts to keep it secure. This is because it makes patching Android vulnerabilities far more costly and time consuming, with vendors having to update multiple versions of their product.
Some security experts have questioned the validity of the Android Developer forum's statistics. F-Secure security analyst Sean Sullivan told V3 the way the forum measures Android use is misleading.
"I think it's growing ever more difficult to draw conclusions from the ‘numbers'. It's a measure of those that are active in Google Play. And I'll tell you, my mom has an Android device – and she hasn't used Play recently. Just when she set up the phone, and not much since. I suspect there are lots of folks like her," he said.
Android is currently listed by the security community as the most targeted mobile operating system in the world. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) currently lists 79 percent of all mobile malware as being designed to target Android.