Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

Summary: Why aren't Android users stuck on positively antique versions of the OS screaming for upgrades?


The other day I linked to an excellent and well-researched piece by Michael DeGusta of the understatement which showed how the majority of android handsets spent much of their existence running old versions of the mobile operating system. Some of the statistics were indeed horrifying ... for example, seven of the eighteen Android phones have never run a current version of the Android OS.

This got me thinking.

There are a lot of Android users out there. A hell of a lot. Most of these Android users will have handsets running old (sometimes antique) versions of Android. You'd think that these people would be screaming for the latest version of Android.

But they're not.

For example, over the past 12 months, I've had fewer than a dozen people asking me about how to upgrade Android handsets to the latest version. This is a low number, especially given that I get a lot of other Android related questions and queries in on a regular basis.

Now maybe my readers are all technical enough to use mods like CyanogenMod to get newer features onto older handsets, but I doubt that's the case. Some are, sure, probably far more than the average, but I'd still expect more people to be asking me about the subject.

Conclusion: Android users, on the whole, don't care about operating system upgrades.

[poll id="705"]

But is this true? I don't know. Compared to iPhone owners, who thoroughly hammered Apple's servers to get their hands on the latest iOS update, Android owners seem like a patient bunch. But this patience is costing Android owners both in missed feature and, worse than that, missing security updates.

So, who's to blame? Well, it's certainly not the Android owners themselves (although maybe they could be a bit more vocal about their predicament). The blame lies with the following:

  • Google - Android is Google's responsibility, and the company needs to stress to those down the chain (which we'll come to next) the importance and benefits of keeping handset owners supplied with the latest OS. Partly, I think Google's problem is that it's working to shift out too many new versions of Android rather than incrementally supporting older versions. I think that his, above all, needs to change.
  • Manufacturers - I know that all manufactures want to do is sell handsets, but they have a responsibility to the end user to make those handsets easy to upgrade. I'm aware that there's a cost attached to that, and this means that it's a responsibility that they're likely to try to avoid unless there's pressure on them (from both Google and owners). But manufacturers need to realize that happy customers are more likely to buy from them in the future.
  • Carriers - Carriers are only interested in one thing ... selling a contract. They don't care about the phone or the features or the latest version of Android. Carriers are only going to give a damn about OS upgrades for handsets when they're either forced to (as Microsoft is trying to do with Windows Phone), or when they're pretty much taken out of the equation (like Apple has done).

Android owners deserve upgrades, but I think they need to start being more vocal about that desire if they're to have any hope of getting them.


Topics: Android, Google, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Security

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  • also the fragmentation is much worse than that study even shows...

    Although the study shows horrific fragmentation, it is not showing that the situation is even more horrifically fragmented... because it only shows a few Android handsets... there were about 80 Android phones by 2010 most of which you could get in the US...300 Android handsets by the end of 2011.. most of which failed to sell more than a few....(well all failed to sell more than a few) why? because of the horrific fragmentation where consumers only had to wait a couple weeks to get an even newer handset...<br><br>sometimes having more "choice" and more "open" is the more evil of the roads to take, where even though you got the newest handset, it was worthless about 1 month later, and was no longer even able to be updated... because the manufacture had to spend more time putting out an even newer device to compete with the dozen that were released since you got your handset....<br><br>it is not Apple that will destroy Android, it is Android that will destroy Android...<br><br>just exactly like the PC industry ate it's young... and then died a slow and painful death of cut throat competition (except we are witnessing it at 10x the speed) where PC's were considered a cheap commodity in the end not worth much more than dish washer soap.... as IBM found out the hard way, and then HP, and DELL and everyone else, <br><br>ALL EXCEPT APPLE.....<br><br>guess how this turns out again....
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      @honkj More choice and more open is never evil... The handset is never worthless, just because a newer model is released doesn't make the current model worthless... Or do you buy a new car every year?

      Android shows absolutely no signs of being "destroyed".... Check the facts again, Android gains more and more every day...

      PC industry might have "ate it's young", but it is also a weeding out process where only the more efficient ones survive, so will it be on Android, many will try, some will succeed...

      It ends with Apple surviving on a small subset of market share...
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        Please do.
        Then add the free 3GS.
        If you can find legitimate high end Android smartphones for free let me know.
        When I look on Amazon for free Android smartphones they are all older models bundled with something that includes additional cost to the user.
      • Android uses tailfin size to differentiate.


        Those screens keep getting bigger and bigger. It is the last trick they have.

        Apple will end up with "only" 15-20% market share but be pulling in 85% of all profits. That is not "surviving", it is thriving. Android handset makers will be sirviving on the scraps of the lowest value 60% or so of the market.
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        @rhonin __ Now don't confuse this sucker with facts. He's not capable of understanding them.
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        We can make the same argument for the 3GS, and the 3 before it, with all the $99 specials.
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        @honkj here hasn't been an android 2 for 1 sale since last year! And mos of he good android handsets start out as expensive or more so than the. 16 Gig iPhone! Talk about an RDF hangover!
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        @bruizer, Android was always ahead in Handset sales as it is on a ton of them... Now here's the part you missed, it has claimed the top spot in App sales for smartphones! I guess that kills that theory huh?
      • &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;2012&lt;/a&gt;

        @jamespakele What can you do. There is no incentive for manufacturers to upgrade old handsets and in most cases they have to provide the update. Apple doesnt wait for the carrier. There is no crapware to update and be tested and old OS means more potential customers for the 2yr contract. We need a vanilla android OS released by Google for all handsets with the hardware capable of running the upgrade.
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      @honkj That Open system that IBM introduced pack in the 80's almost killed Apple and the Macintosh wasn't selling for the first two years!

      As for Apple's computer division, they are still a very Small market.

      As for Android Handsets... Well, it is funny that the company with the worst reputation for upgrading (Samsung) is the company that is #1 in handsets sold (yes even beating Apple now).

      Apple learned that you need the vendors the first time around but nobody liked being forced to follow the man in whichever direction he decided to go (this was a big part of the reason they wouldn't make apps for the original Macintosh while he was there).

      Anyway, we'll see what Tim Cook can do with the company but if he proves no less flexible than Jobs then you will likely see more and more companies supporting alternative platforms.
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        That Open system that IBM introduced pack in the 80's almost killed Apple and the Macintosh wasn't selling for the first two years!

        no you have that all wrong, what almost Killed Apple was the firing of Steve Jobs, and then the CEO trying to turn Apple into... well IBM.... they literally cloned the Mac.... worse, they lost all attention to innovation...

        what almost killed Apple was the lack of innovation....

        with Innovation, it is like seeing a football player laying flat on his back, jump up and start running with a bounce.... as soon as that happened... Apple not only jumped up but ran right by every other PC manufacturer... AGAIN.....

        this has NOTHING to do with "closed" or "open" a consumer could care less about the tag line... the IPOD sold more product that any other product in history and it is the most "closed" system tied directly to software and iTunes.... and consumers could care less, the thing works beautifully... and the reason it does work beautifully is because it is a "closed" ecosystem... where Apple could make it work "beautifully"....

        THAT is how far off base you are with that comment...
    • Much ado about nothing...


      From the chart that was once published on zdnet I remember that most Android phones run version >= 2.*, hence I am not sure why people are so upset about fragmentation. :-)
      Solid Water
      • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

        @Solid Water Greater Han 90% were on Android 2.x which last time I checked, the option to use anything higher doesn't hit unil November 17th.
    • and now it begins.... they are eating their young already...

      do a search for link: "HTC Falls After Cutting Sales Forecast, Reviewing Takeover" Nov 24, 2011

      HTC Corp., the largest seller of smartphones in the U.S., fell to the lowest level in 16 months after unexpectedly cutting its fourth-quarter revenue forecast amid the global economic crisis and competition with Apple Inc.

      The shares dropped 6.9 percent to NT$526 as of 10:31 a.m. in Taipei, its daily limit and the lowest since July 28, 2010. The benchmark Taiex index added 0.6 percent. Revenue this quarter will be little changed from a year earlier, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement last night, compared with an earlier forecast for growth of 20 percent to 30 percent
  • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

    I think it is because android spans over different versions, over a vast range of phones and price ranges that skews these results.

    For instance, the iphone is a top end expensive smart phone, and with a small range of phones to cator for they can ensure updates work on all, not to mention people on the higher end market probably care more for there phone.

    People buying cheap android devices probably don't even know phones are upgradable yet alone if the hardware supports it. I think a comparison between a highend android like the galaxy s2 and iphone would show different results. Just my opinion anyway.
    • Good point...


      I got two upgrades for Evo 4G in a year, so it was running 2.3.3 before I bought SGS2
      Solid Water
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      You are right. Normal non-IT users don't care about Windows updates. Why should they care about Android updates?

      As long as it does what they need it to do (Navigation, Internet, Email etc.) they are happy and don't care about new features.
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      @Frenz9 but it isn't there are several phones more expensive.
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      @Frenz9 I think your right as well. A huge portion of Android sales are cheap phones and the buyers of these phones don't care what OS it's running let alone what version. They just wanted a cheap smart phone on their carrier of choice, they don't go shopping for a particular manufacturer or OS, just a cheap smart phone.
    • RE: Maybe Android owners just don't care about updates

      think a comparison between a highend android like the galaxy s2 and iphone would show different results

      you mean the Samsung Galaxy S2 that routinely sells for less than $400 without a contract (already dropped that far by the way, and that will drop to 1/2 that in another month or so), and it is like less than a month old in the US right?

      and can't even be upgraded to ice cream until 2012???? they were worried that it wouldn't be updated at all? actually it is just rumors that it will be updated, SINCE SAMSUNG HAS SAID NOTHING..... (actually it probably will not, because there will be about 12 to 30 more smartphones released in the mean time JUST from Samsung, so no one will remember that they wanted an update, just like the last time they said something like this for a phone in the past, which i can't even remember the name, there have been so many....

      that one????? did you want to prove the point 3 times over or something?