Hey Motorola, Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony – Are You Proud of Yourselves?

by: LucianOctober 28, 2011

I wonder if the Android manufacturers, especially the top 5 ones – Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and Sony – can sleep well at night knowing how many millions of devices they’ve left behind without upgrading them even for a year, or many times without upgrading them at all. I’m thinking they sleep pretty well, knowing they sold the devices to customers, and now they don’t have to care about them anymore. Because if they didn’t, then they’d probably actually do something about it, wouldn’t they?

This graph has been going around the web for the past couple of days, and while I think it was created with some mal-intentions to take a jab at Android by someone who is very much in love with Apple, and normally I wouldn’t support it, this time I just have to. Because I’m afraid it’s the only way the Android manufacturers will learn – by being publicly shamed into doing something about it already! They need some tough love, if we are to receive more upgrades on our phones.

Remember how after the continuous outrage about the locked bootloaders, we started seeing a glimpse of a future when phones will stop being locked? Samsung stopped locking them. HTC offered an online unlock tool, and Motorola is just getting around to having unlocked bootloaders, although they still seem to blame the carriers for now allowing them to do it. I don’t know how true that is, but hopefully things will change when Google finalizes the acquisition. LG and Sony seems to keep them open as well.

So at least we set the direction for them. It’s time to do the same for software upgrades, too. Enough is enough. We heard about the Android Update Alliance in spring at Google I/O, but it was very vague, with no specific plans or commitments from them, and when I saw the Android 4.0 event, I realized they didn’t say anything about it, which made me think that things might not be going too well with that. The manufacturers might be starting to backtrack on that plan.

I really hope I’m wrong on this, though, and it’s more of a matter of starting over with Android 4.0. Perhaps the new Android is easier to upgrade, and it could be why Honeycomb devices get updates much faster. On the other hand, it could be just because the tablets are mostly using the stock version of Honeycomb. That again leads us to another thing. Maybe manufacturers need to stop doing such deep customization of Android?

I was hoping that with Android 4.0, Google would set some sort of guidelines that allows them to only lightly customize it – like change the theme, colors, widgets, whatever. As long as it’s all a surface customization, and it means anyone can find common traits in all Android phones, so all Android phones can have a certain identify. Also, it would be a lot easier to revert to stock Android, and disable the theme on top. Google hasn’t given any details about this, and they probably do want manufacturers to do more of that, but knowing some of the manufacturers, they’ll keep messing with it.

Either way, fast updates are important, but what is even more important, is at least getting the updates in the first place! If they can promise me that if I buy a phone today, and I’ll be getting at least 3-4 next major Android versions for the next 18 months or so (considering Google releases one every 6 months or so), then I would be quite happy with that. They’d end up supporting their customers for 75% of the their contract’s lifetime, while in the same time still leaving room for them to want to upgrade to a new phone once the contract is up.

I don’t think 2 or more years of upgrades is necessary, because then technology would move slower, and people might start hanging on to their phones for more than 2 years. I get that. But at least give me 18 months of upgrades, not just 3-6 months with just one upgrade – maybe.

All Android manufacturers need to commit to 3-4 major upgrades of Android, and they need to do it NOW.

  • Rsohne

    Its the number one argument my son throws in my face when ever we argue about iPhone vs Android!

  • Should never limit the amount of customisation that anyone can do with Android. That runs contrary to the spirit of open-source.

    Manufacturers should be measured on their speed of upgrade and this should be published in a usable format. Consumers can then vote with their wallets.

  • Marco P

    Find it hard to believe that an Android News site is re-posting this crap. *sigh*
    The iPhone should have lots of yellow and orange in the 1G (1.x) & (2.x), 3G, 3GS and 4 – unless you are running the FULL iOS release the phone is crippled, performance limited or not updated. Every iPhone up to 4 have has been omitted from a release or had features omitted.
    Steve Jobs is dead, you don’t have keep his lies machine running Apple, m’kay?

    • AppleFUD

      While what you say about the iphone is true it does NOT alleviate Android OEM’s from their responsibility to support their products.

      I’ve been “bitching” about this issue for some time now. Whenever it’s brought up on an Android site we get comments like yours and all the “just flash a custom ROM it’s Android and open” BS. End users should not depend on the dev community for support, and there should be a minimum length of software support and a required by date for updates from OS release date.

      It isn’t that frackin’ hard to do!

      So, in the end as I always say, THERE IS ONLY ONE ANDROID HANDSET! The Nexus line and all others running Android are proprietary “OEM Android” that are often more locked down than the iphone.

      • Asdf

        Downloading an app from the market is hard to do?

        You know there are apps in the market that hand hold you is you’re new to it.

  • akhi216

    The source of the charts and opinions on this article are obviously biased iSheep drivel. What about the Droid 2 and the Droid 2 Global? both which were released in 2010 and have the latest version of Android. That chart is missing a lot of Android phones but conspicuously the iPhone models are innaccurate yet the content of the article suggests otherwise. Also the later iPhlop models don’t run the new iOS and if they do it’s buggy and lacking in features e.g. no mulitasking. Give me a f-ing break already.

    • The problem is that the chart is missing a lot of flag ship devices. It is missing almost everyone of the Motorola Droid Phones; what about the Droid X, X2, Droid 2, Droid 2 Global, and Droid Pro? Motorola has almost every one of their phone on the current release of gingerbread.

  • Anonymous

    I am disappointed that you’ve chosen to run this article featuring this very distorted view created by iSheep.

    The upgrade issue is an indictment against the Carriers more than the manufacturers or Android in general. It has some very specific examples to look as bad as possible and if mainstream International versions of handsets were used it would look VERY different.

    Life for the iSheep isn’t as good as the graph would have them believe either. I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen somewhere that the iPhone 3 didn’t get IOS5 and prior handsets cerfainly get a trimmed down version of updates missing features. How many pissed off iPhone 4 owners are out there because they didn’t get Siri for example???

  • Jjamain

    Galaxy S. I dont even have security update? How manufacturer going to release asap?

  • Seighalani

    i wondered because i didnt think google with its inteligence be innatention to android. but i am happy because i see you that notice to android future. i hope others i mean companies like htc and samsung notice to this important ideas.thanks anyway

  • cool plum

    Google should reduce update schedule and manufacturers should put in some work.
    Whats most irritating is geographic limitations. If someone in USA gets the update why cant I in india get the same??

  • The article is kind of interesting in a sense. There are a lot of devices that do get left behind though when it comes to the Android platform though. However, that’s also because there are so many different builds, and it would be near impossible to list ever single Android device along with their history. The thing is that most smart phones don’t usually get updates after 2 years or so because people replace them after about a year or two. However, I agree with everyone else, on the fact that they did pick some of the most obscure devices devices. They’re all Mid to low range devices, so they don’t get the same support because they usually lack the needed hardware to do it. Android also updates a lot. It’s easy to get a version or 3 behind, the Xperia line up used to have that problem for a long time.

  • Nick-lee-

    op is a faggot

  • Anonymous

    This is stupid. You want Windows 8 on your Commodore 64 too?

    • VArterJr

      You can run Windows on your Commodore 64. http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_C64.aspx

      “Don’t forget that the new Commodore 64 is a fully functional PC compatible, so you can even install and use the latest versions of Windows if you really feel you need to.”

      Sorry … I just couldn’t pass that up. :-)


  • charlie wyatt

    so many butthurt android fanboys

  • Symbian FTW…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……us Nokia user aren’t the dumbest after all like most say……..we symbian/Nokia users are very cautious….we’ve basically seen every OS since Nokia is the first one to make the Smartphone OS…….so though there are so much nice looking things about Android and iOS,WebOS,BBOS,WP7….they where made from how symbian was and it was in Symbian First