Are Android Customers Left to Rot?

Interesting perspective from Chris Dawson on the lack of incentive carriers have to keep their devices up-to-date on the latest version of Android.

Are Android customers left to rot the moment we walk out of the store? –

His point makes sense, although I have to add that Apple’s incentive to push people to newer versions of iOS is also heavily tied to iTunes and selling content.

Once the phone is sold, the customer becomes a cost by consuming bandwidth and network resources. That cost is balanced by monthly charges, but the cost of pushing an OTA for a new version of Android is not recouped by the carrier.

And therein lies the easy answer. Carriers will eventually charge to upgrade.

As modder, my immediate reaction was, mod the phone to get 2.2 and all its glorious features, but as Chris correctly points out, jailbreaking (and modding) are black arts.

I found it funny that he found a guy on Craigslist to unbrick his iPhone, until I realized he lives in Portland, where he could get any number of open hackers to mod his Android phone. Just saying.

Thoughts? You know what to do.




  1. Sad but true: As OEM’s and carriers add bloatware and UX mods to the phone, they increase their own costs to upgrade. Solution: consumers should insist on “bare bones” android with minimal if any changes. Combined with reasonable hardware upgrade path should be cheap and easy. This is one of the reasons I’ve got the orig moto droid in my pocket (running 2.2), and the HTC and SS phones are on my desk.

  2. Don’t know if the platform’s left to rot as the original article indicates, but it’s definitely not maximizied. Fragmented, most Android phone users probably don’t even know what version they’re using (do iPhone users know which version of iOS?) yet along consider modding the phone. Jailbreaking, hacking, craiglist workarounds just aint a user experience or any other kind of business strategy. Something has to change for sure.

  3. The handset manufacturers would prefer you buy a new phone. The carriers don’t care about the handset as long as your are on their network (preferably locked in by a long contract which means a new phone). The store that sold you the phone just wants you to spend more on your service (at least here in Oz, as they get a cut off all your bills)…but will be happy if they can sell you a new phone too (preferably on a more expensive plan).
    Apple has an extra reason to upgrade though. As well as sell the apps, they also expend effort in reviewing them for the marketplace. A smaller set of versions in play means things are easier to test.

  4. We both know consumers won’t insisting for anything like that 🙂 The onus is on Google to intervene on the carrier’s behalf, especially if they start charging for Android updates.

  5. True, the average consumer know precisely zero about phone OS versions, but I disagree that this is a UX problem. If the phone works, great. No problems. The updates matter only if they introduce new capabilities or fix known issues. That’s where the carrier motivation issue comes into play.

  6. It varies a lot between carriers and even within a carrier’s Android phones, e.g. the Droid line. Verizon must work with both Motorola and HTC to push out Android updates to its Droid phones. Even so, the EVO went to 2.2 months after it was introduced, not fast enough for some, but admittedly better than the Galaxy.

  7. Exactly right, there is little incentive along the supply chain to push an upgrade.

    As I mentioned, I wonder if Apple makes as much money off putting iTunes content on phones as it does off app revenue.

  8. If you can’t move your data around, get features, apps, and so on, then it’s a UX issue. It’s beyond personalization at this stage. In general, I think that’s an issue with Android – look at the inability to get paid apps from the marketplace for example.

  9. Not sure where you’re going bc Android does all that and has for a while. You can buy apps in the marketplace, depending on what country you live in, and Google has been steadily expanding that list.

    I thought you were referring to the post’s point about rotting without upgrades. Now, are you saying that Android in general is poor UX?

  10. I feel I’m pretty much required to root my phone to get the updates with T-Mobile; there are rumors my Galaxy S will be upgraded to 2.2 but nothing official from my carrier. I ended up rooting the phone myself and installing a patch which more than tripled my performance.

  11. Rooting is a must for Android. Glad you were able to jump to 2.2, and still shocked that Samsung hasn’t pushed an OTA yet. Now they’re making the Nexus S? Odd.

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