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.
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.