Op-Ed: Google doesn’t really care about your Android updates
Recently, some testimonials from Larry Page in an Oracle cross-examination leaked out. For those of you who don’t know, Google’s mobile operating system Android is being sued by Oracle for copyright infringement (related to usage of its Java software). Page had this ringing quote to say about Android: “I believe Android was very important for Google. I wouldn’t say it was critical.” He also elaborated that Android was a means to get preexisting Google services to mobile users, so think Google Docs, Gmail, and advertising.
I’ve been saying this for a while now, and Larry Page confirmed it. Android isn’t that important to a company who makes like 99.9 percent of its dough from ads. So this deserves attention for the next time you complain about your updates, remember, Google doesn’t really care. Whoever says differently, is blinded by fatuous Android fanboyism.
Is it not obvious? Google doesn’t care about the user experience, or how their developers can make money (lack of in-app buys). It’s all about the advertising profit for Google. This should’t come to anyones surprise, as Google is a giant search engine who makes money soliciting ads, and Android is just a cog on the wheel for that machine. Google gives the illusion that it wants to have an “open” mentality for its mobile operating system, Android. Truth is, it’s really code for: we don’t care what you do with Android as long as our ads are on it. For those of us who are objective, who don’t wave flags showing allegiance for a particular mobile operating system or brand — the picture is clear.
Lets call it like it is, Google isn’t doing a good job with distributing its latest and greatest OS to featured phones abroad, this has been a problem for years really. Why is this the case? Well, before you blame the manufacturers, you must realize OEMs don’t have the power, as the cell phone carriers decide when or if phones receive updates. Vlad Savov said it best in an editorial he wrote a few weeks ago when discussing the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on devices:
” … Yet we’re sat watching as a two-stage software update roadmap develops. One is for Google’s own, the Xooms and the Nexuses of the world, and the other is for everyone else, leaving Android phone owners at the mercy of quixotic phone makers and myopic carriers.”
Although I agree with that statement, part of it was wrong. Google from day one has always hyped the privilege of having a “pure experience” Google handset, because these devices are supposed to give users first dibs on its latest and greatest software promptly. This isn’t the case, as I found out first hand with my last handset, the Samsung Nexus S 4G. I grabbed the NS4G when I made the jump to Sprint from T-Mobile thinking that ICS was coming soon, to be brief, I stayed into the phone until the second week of February almost four months after Android 4.0 came out — still no update.
I was so disgusted that what I owned was supposedly a “pure experience” Google Nexus device that supposed to deliver updates promptly, ended up being flagrantly late. Hell, the update for the Nexus S 4G didn’t roll out until two weeks ago. This is ridiculous considering that ICS (Android 4.0) came out six months before the update came to the device, and this is supposed to be a “pure Google experience”?
As a former user of Android phones for three years, I came to the realization of a few things. One, I had to stop making excuses for Android’s shortcomings when it came to updates. Two, the Nexus brand name is a lie. Three, Google wasn’t going to change its ways anytime soon. I’ve been very critical of Android ever since, holding the best mobile operating system to the fire (yes, it’s still the best functioning operating system on the market).
That said, I think Android would be a lot better ran if Amazon had owned it. I say that because they (Amazon) seem to get it when it comes to selling a product with the right brand and more organized ecosystem. Also, I could’t envision Amazon making the concessions to the cell phone carriers that Google makes when it comes to updates.
Do you know how many Android devices that are currently powered by the latest Android, OS (Android 4.0.3)? Well, less than three percent (2.4 percent to be exact) of handsets have the latest version of Ice Cream Sandwich after being released almost seven months ago! That is crazy. If Google ever took Android seriously then it would take a cue from its staunches rival, Apple. I say that because Apple dictates what they want from the carriers, not what carriers want from them, as prompt updates plays a huge part in who ultimately controls the handset.