Android 4.0 updates: It is all about the money

Summary:Samsung is raising the ire of some existing customers with word that Android 4.0 won't be ported to older handsets. In spite of the official reason, I believe it's all about the money.

Android is a giant mobile platform that evolves at a fast pace, and along with each new major version comes confirmation from the OEMs that not every product in existence will be getting that shiny new OS update. Most recently is the word that Samsung will not be bringing Android 4.0 to the Galaxy S nor the Galaxy Tab. What really has folks irked is that the reason Samsung is throwing out there is that the new version of Android won't fit alongside the company's TouchWiz customizations. That may be the official party line from Samsung but I believe it is really all about the money.

Companies like the goodwill they get from existing customers when they support products for a while, but in the end it doesn't get them much. Fact is, if OEMs keep updating older devices with new versions of Android it is more likely those customers won't buy another gadget any time soon. That's the churn that OEMs depend on to keep sales hopping.

Another side of the update coin for OEMs is the support costs. It is not cheap to get the new version of Android ready to put on an existing handset, nor to start supporting that version going forward. It is like taking on an entirely new support system for each version of the OS, and that is surely expensive.

Like all customers I want my gadgets to have the latest and greatest version of Android, to feel like I am getting my money's worth. I own a Galaxy Tab and I certainly wish it was getting Android 4.0, but Samsung says that is not going to happen. I don't like the decision, but I understand it from a cost standpoint.

Many mainstream consumers don't follow this stuff, and probably aren't even aware of the new version of Android, much less want to get it. For those more tech-savvy, don't overlook the outstanding homebrew community that probably has Android 4.0 coming to a device near you. My Nexus S 4G is slated to get Android 4.0 at some point, but I have already put a custom ROM on my handset from the homebrew crew. Not that I recommend that avenue for everyone, but if it's a big deal to you, wink, wink.

Image credit: Flickr user abulhussain

Topics: Mobility, Google


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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