Time for Google to take control of the Android update process

Time for Google to take control of the Android update process

Summary: Too many customers are not happy with lack of updates for Android phones. It's time for Google to step in and take control over the Android update process, no matter how many partner feathers get ruffled.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Android, Google
127

Android is always a hot topic on the web since it's grown so big. Unfortunately for Google, a lot of the conversation centers around the pitiful update process that has customers venting frustration at the delays (or lack) of updates for their Android phones. I understand that the update process is complicated and involves too many entities, but Google is ultimately the company that gets kicked in the shins as its brand gets dragged through the mud over the frustrating update situation. That's reason enough for Google to step in and take control over the Android update process, no matter how many partner feathers get ruffled.

The whole "open" concept behind Android implies that Google should keep producing its code and keeping its hands off those who are building products with it. That is the ideal process, but it's not working when so many customers are unhappy with support. They may be mad at Samsung for the lack of updates, or their telco, but ultimately it is the Android brand that bears the brunt of customer discontent.

If OEMs have such a difficult time producing updates for handsets, then something is wrong with the process. If OEMs are holding off releasing updates for business reasons, as many customers believe, then the process is flawed in allowing that to happen. If the telcos are dragging the process down with testing delays, then the process is not working. It is time for Google to step in and address all of the issues affecting timely updates to its customers, and make no mistake, Android customers are Google's customers.

Google needs to establish an update process for partners that paves the way for faster (and continual) updates to handsets, no matter the telco. If partners are having such a hard time getting Android updates incorporated in handset updates, then Google needs to aid in this process. Form a business group that does nothing else but gets actual handset updates into customers' hands.

If the handset update process is not really that complicated, then Google needs to put mandates on partners requiring a reasonable (to customers) timeframe in which handsets get updated. Just because Android is open doesn't mean Google can't put controls on businesses using it. It is time to step up on the behalf of customers and get things right. Partners won't like it, but they're making too much money on Android to turn away now.

Image credit: Google

Topics: Android, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

127 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Well, Google could use the Google / Android brands to enforce reasonable

    update times. But, the problem is that the carriers still have way too much power.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      @DonnieBoy Yes they do!!
      tn77
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        This is the first time I am visiting this post.I have gathered much of it.Really a interesting firm things.
        <a href="http://antivircoupon.com">vipre coupon</a>
        jenny55
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      @DonnieBoy
      Very good response in amillion years. First time you made sense.
      Ram U
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @Rama.NET BINGO!
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      @DonnieBoy
      Carries do. But so do manufactures and their behavior is nothing short of criminal - lack of support for existing products.

      I have an HTC Desire. Purchased SIM free, carrier independent. Two months after the 2.3 was released, HTC still has no official position whether my phone, released in April 2010, will ever get the update.

      HTC still sells Desire. But they don't seem to support it.
      kitko
      • Unfortunately, there is ZERO incentive to provide updates

        @kitko Manufacturers have no incentive to spend any time and money updating the OS of their older model smartphones. They made all the money they can make as soon as you purchased phone.

        Providing updates means that users will keep the phone a lot longer time .... because they don't become obsolete. They are counting on obsolescence to sell you a new model.

        Apple has the App Store as an incentive to keep the iPhone updated. Android OEMs don't have that value incentive.
        wackoae
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @kitko Actually they make most of their money on the service, not the phones.
        JamesKendrick
      • Who is the customer?

        @kitko - I understand that you paid full price for your unlocked phone. However, most people take the perceived "cheap" price for a locked-in phone and contract with penalties.

        To the manufacturer, the carrier is the customer. Until the manufacturer's customer (the carrier) says that they want an update, the manufacturer will do nothing.

        What we must do is stop accepting the carrier's trap and buy only unlocked phones.

        Consider how we buy computers. Would anyone buy a computer that can only access the Internet by using AOL? As much as AOL would love such a situation, it is unlikely because the market will see through such a ploy.

        Why do we treat ourselves so poorly when it comes to acquiring a cell phone? When carriers find that there is no money coming for their traps, they will treat us better.
        pwatson
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @pwatson<br><br>the problem with everyone buying "unlocked" phones is that you still pay the same price for the service, what is the point? It is just wasting money. the carriers think they are making out good buy locking you on a contract, buy you are STILL saving $150 - $400+ off the total cost at the end of your contract.

        Until carriers start charging you a surcharge for using an unlocked phone the only reason to buy one is to get a phone from another region that is not available where you live.
        aiellenon
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @kitko While I think it's a pathetic policy not to keep them updated it's not criminal and they most likely are not going to change things without a major push from Google as they make more money this way.

        @JamesKendrick Actually it's the carriers that make money on the service, not the OEMs.
        non-biased
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @kitko
        How true. HTC is getting to bold and almost Apple like with somethings. I personally stopped buying their devices due to that fact and the fact that they abandoned the physical keyboard for "more iphone-ish" bull type devices. Don't get me wrong, virtual keyboards are great but physical to me is always better

        I now roll with LG but back to the Android update. Case and point: Dell Streak locked to AT&T is still on 1.6 but the unlocked purchase from Dell is on 2.2. AT&T still doesn't have this in their database. It shows up as Dell Latitude (a laptop) and from what their level3 tells me no update is in the making from them for this device either. Luckily XDA Dev is around and they have the solutions.

        Google Really needs to step in on this Really Big Issue with their updates.
        Free Webapps
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      It's Googles fault carriers have too much power. After the iPhone was released every carrier was yearning and scrambling for something to compete with the iPhone. Google had an opportunity to limit their power and could have established certain requirements (including updates) to use Android OS. But Google in its haste to promote Android didn't. So now here we are only a few years after Android was released, and the user base/experience is severely fragmented. No one knows if or when they will see updates from their carrier.
      Masari.Jones
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      @DonnieBoy
      You know...I hate it when people use the subject field for their reply and then have it spill into the reply area.
      The subject field is for the subject and the reply area is for the reply.
      Come on.
      Xander_Crews
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @Xander_Crews It makes you pay close attention, that's a fact.
        JamesKendrick
      • Yes but...

        @Xander_Crews this is the way I prefer to reply.
        godsfault
  • What is unrealistic here is that

    probably of the millions who own Android handsets, the update process isn't even an issue for them.

    I am happy if the OEMs can provide an update every six months.

    The reality is that sales-wise Android smartphones didn't really take off in large volume until 2010, in spite of being around since 2008.

    I think we are seeing to some extent 'growing pains' and with time, the OEMs will fall in line with expectations on a reasonable update delivery schedule, say every six months.

    Those OEMs who don't may then accept the 'risk' of losing sales in the long run as their reputation/image will suffer.

    James, I think this issue has been overstated in the media.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      No actually you are wrong here and the article is right:

      - Sony Xperia (Which is still being sold) will not be updated past Android 2.1. It is not underpowered by any stretch of the imagination, but Sony Ericsson want to sell the latest hardware.
      - Samsung has issues where some are updated to 2.2, and others not.

      The list goes on. It is a real problem and I do think Google needs to step in and fix it.
      serpentmage
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @serpentmage I agree. Motorola's first Droid does not have the wifi tether option provided by Verizon because Verizon wants the customer to buy the newer phone. The result is a phone envy causing the person to keep wanting the next version of the phone.

        You can root the phone and download Google's Wifi hotspot program off the web, but you won't find the average person rooting their android phone thinking it voids their warranty or "bricking" their phone.
        Maarek
      • RE: Time for Google to Take Control of the Android Update Process

        @serpentmage
        I agree and have said, Google is going to get the blame - right or wrong - because of other people's implementation. The fact is, even people who know nothing about tech will say "Google Android" that is going to be difficult to remove. They will have the same problem with their "OS"...unless they control it.
        ItsTheBottomLine