one: There simply isn’t, and apparently never was.
The original promise wasn’t about a vendor evaluating if it would issue an upgrade, or about letting us know sometime next year when it made a decision. It was that hardware permitting, all Android devices would get OS updates in a reasonable amount of time within the first 18 months.
As a Google Nexus One user and an avid supporter of the CyanogenMod community, up until recently I didn’t suffer from Android fragmentation myself. However, I never accepted the way that Google, the smartphone vendors and especially the carriers dealt with Android fragmentation. While you could argue that it is mainly the carriers’ fault, as they are the ones eventually pushing the upgrade to the users, I strongly believe that Google is the one to blame.
You see, Windows Mobile was there all along to remind Google of how a failing mobile OS model looks like. And yet, Google handed the keys off to the vendors and carriers to freely manipulate Android and generally treat their products as if they were feature phones. The bought and forgot methodology.
Funny thing is, Google’s own G1, their first Android phone, launched more than a year after Apple debuted the original iPhone. The distinction between Apple and AT&T seemed clear from the start: Apple was responsible for the hardware and software, while AT&T handled communication. That’s it. And it worked.
Although Google never wanted to limit itself to a single vendor, it could have insisted that any changes made to the platform (when vendors add their ‘mark’, usually ugly skins and bloatware) comply with certain standards. A set of rules that would enable a rapid upgrade path. An agreement that would leave most of the difficult integration and testing work on Google’s internal resources.
The way I see it, there’s only one possible explanation. User satisfaction had never been the top priority for Google. It was something else: to flood the market with relatively cheap devices, given that they are tightly connected with Google services and can potentially produce ad driven revenue.
On his own reaction to the post by PC Mag, MG Siegler says:
According to Andy Rubin at I/O, the details of the Alliance were more or less a formality being sorted out. “Over the next few weeks, we’ll figure it out.”
That was seven months ago. There’s apparently been zero progress. Remarkably, maybe less than zero.
Google has really perfected “over-promise, under-deliver” with this one.
Remarkably indeed. Though I don’t always agree with MG’s views on Android, this time he nails it.