72% of Android Smartphone buyers in India do not receive latest OS update at the time of purchase



  • Software to trigger the next wave of competitiveness in the Smartphone Industry after the current ‘spec-war’ reaches its peak
  • Custom ROM still a niche with only 2.3% penetration in 2015; over 95% of Smartphones ship with proprietary UI
  • Only 38% Android Smartphone users have updated their OS as against 48% average across platforms; iOS leads with 96% users updating to the latest version

New Delhi/Bangalore, Thursday, February 4, 2016:  According to the findings of a special report, “State of Mobile Operating System Adoption in India” released today by market research and consulting services firm CyberMedia Research (CMR), 72% of Android Smartphone buyers did not receive an update to the latest Android OS or its latest features at the time of purchase in CY 2015. To add to this, 64% of Android Smartphones shipped in the India market in 2015 featured the ageing Android KitKat OS, which is close to three years old.  The study was conducted across 158 different Smartphone brands and covered 1,476 device models.

Commenting on the findings related to Android OS updates Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, Telecoms at CMR said, “With increase in commoditisation of hardware features owing to competitive pressures, Smartphone vendors will need to start focusing on creating differentiation through user experience enabled by OS and software features. Typically, a consumer nowadays needs to purchase a premium priced Smartphone to access the latest Android OS or software-enabled features.”

“The key reason for the delay in sending updates to existing Android smartphones is that handset vendors prefer to launch new models, rather than focus on updating existing ones to provide a consistent user experience. Of course, this comes with the rider that wherever it is essential and critical to send an update, they do not remain selective,” Faisal further added.

Emerging Role of Software as a Differentiator: Custom ROM and UI

The report also delved into the other layers of Smartphone software – the various Custom ROMs (Cyanogen, Oxygen etc.) and UIs (MiUI, TouchWiz etc.). According to the study, in 2015 just 2.3% of Smartphones shipped in India were equipped with a Custom ROM – Cyanogen or Oxygen. Despite Custom ROM offering deeper levels of customisation, it is largely left for more tech-savvy users to ‘fiddle’ with the device, giving them a more personalised experience. Over 95% of Smartphones shipped during the year were loaded with a proprietary UI from the handset vendor that not only allows users flexibility to personalise widgets (apps, subscriptions etc.) but also serves as a visible differentiator for brands.

User Behaviour

CMR also conducted an end-to-end research of over 400 smartphone users across major cities with some interesting findings.

While iOS users lead with 96% users updating the OS at least once, Android lags behind at an abysmal 38%. Interestingly, the major drivers for OS update are 77% users seeking performance improvements, 57% users wanting to explore new features, and 43% looking for security and bug fixes.

Putting the user research into perspective, Satya Mohanty, Lead, End-User Research at CMR said, “Awareness of what the update will offer plays a vital role in the adoption and this is reflected in the findings as well. The smartphone industry as a whole needs to increase awareness about all the three hierarchies – OS, Custom ROM and UI among users. This will enable them to appreciate the relevance of software updates and how OS level updates can improve overall handset performance. We witnessed a very high update percentage across OS, Custom ROM and UI among users, once they were made aware about the significance of the same,” Satya concluded.

About the Report

The “State of Mobile Operating System Adoption in India” report was jointly released by CMR and CREO, the latter being a Bangalore based Consumer Technology company, building a smartphone to run on their proprietary Android based Operating System. The research for the report was conducted on the basis of CMR’s India Monthly Mobile Handsets Market Review for the three-year period, 2013-2015. Other publicly available literature was reviewed for industry insights.

Additionally, to capture a 360 degree view, 400 Smartphone users across the country were interviewed to get a sense of user habits and expectations. This was further enriched with expert opinions taken from business executives working for leading Smartphone brands in India.

CREO, a Consumer Technology company, which is developing an Android based OS and a Smartphone was keen to understand how OEMs and customers look at Software Updates and commissioned the research to CMR.

You can download the entire report here.