Android is probably the fastest growing mobile platform in history, and Google deserves kudos for making that happen. The phenomenal growth shows that Google has pretty much done the right things as the proof is in the heavy adoption of the platform. This year has seen Android continue its course to the top, but it's not all been robots and roses. As the year closes, conversation about the abysmal Android update situation is still a hot topic. It's time for Google to make a resolution for next year to get this update situation under control.
The evidence is clear that Android updates, or the unpredictability of them, has been on people's minds all year, based on this article from January of 2011. My thoughts at that time are unchanged today, and set the stage for Google to step up and take control over Android updates.
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.
Google seemed to be listening, and formed a consortium of major players in the Android space to clean up the update process. The effort was announced to define how updates would be handled in the future, and more importantly how long consumers could expect to have updates available for Android devices.
That was over six months ago, and the consortium has done nothing. Not a single action has come out of this effort by Google to address a known problem for consumers. This cannot continue, and the start of a new year is the perfect time for Google to do whatever is necessary to get this update consortium off the ground. As stated earlier this year:
It won’t change things much for end-users if companies continue to hold up updates because they can. The only way this update process will get better is if Google holds the parties responsible, and that means more than a slap on the wrist when updates don’t get to the consumer. No matter what Google may think, good intentions on the part of consortium members is not enough. Consumers deserve to get what they are promised.
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