“I have always liked the fundamental concept of Android — an Open Source smartphone and tablet operating system that could be used on a variety of manufacturers devices with varying feature sets that gives consumers the added benefit of choosing exactly what product suits their specific needs.
And of course, there is also the ability for the base OS itself to be modified as well as the ability to side-load applications of your own design for use in vertical markets.
But at the same time, my tolerance for how Google loosely manages its ecosystem and has allowed the platform to mutate and fragment and permit its OEMs and Carriers to abandon its users by not providing timely updates to their handsets and tablets has made my blood boil.”
This dude wants his cake and to eat it, too. Can’t blame him, but I also can’t help but laugh.
You like Android because it’s “open” and people, companies, and carriers can do with it as they will. You want them to be able to make it so it suits their needs and can be put on all kinds of different devices. But you don’t like it because that’s how it’s being used… Well, duh. Hello, McFly!
Carriers and handset makers are using Android in just that way: taking it, changing it and tweaking it to be what they want it to be and to differentiate themselves from the mass of competitors selling the exact same products. They’re using Android to continue to assert control, the control they lost when Apple came in and flipped the whole wireless industry on its ear. Before iPhone you had locked down dumb phones that had different interfaces, functionality and features depending on what carrier you had it on. Some carriers disabled features and sold additional proprietary accessories to unlock others so they could nickel and dime you.
Firsthand example: I had two friends who had the same Motorola Razr phone, one on T-Mobile and the other Verizon. I helped the friend on T-Mobile send custom ringtones to his phone over Bluetooth from my Mac. The Verizon friend couldn’t do it because her phone had Bluetooth disabled and Verizon wouldn’t enable it. Her two options? Buy tones for $2.50 each from Verizon or pay $25 for a proprietary “media” cable that came with proprietary software that only worked on Windows. She HAD to use that cable, no other cable would work; she HAD to use that software as it was the ONLY program that would read the phone due to the custom software Verizon had.
Carriers made big money and had say over every tiny thing in regards to software and hardware design and functionality. Apple took that away with the iPhone. They miraculously negotiated this sweet deal with AT&T where Apple controlled everything from the hardware to the software to the support of the device. AT&T didn’t care so much because they got to require the data plan and didn’t have to pay any subsidies. The problem came when the iPhone became an explosive hit. Now everyone wanted an iPhone and Apple wanted subsidies. AT&T couldn’t really say no. Apple kept on improving the device with software and hardware upgrades.
Now everybody wants that kind of experience. A sexy device with great, capable software that delivers a smooth and pleasant experience, as well as the promise of updates to fix bugs and add functionality in the future. They want to see their phone as an investment, one they pay a fair amount of money for and keep for a number of years, yet one that also continuously improves with new and better apps and new OS revisions.
But that’s not what the carriers and other device manufacturers want. What do they want? To sell more devices. Carriers want you locked into contracts. If you’re not on contract, you’re at risk of leaving. Device makers want you to buy their newest hardware all the time. For both of them, it’s not worth the time and effort necessary to update and support “old” devices; you’re not spending more money, buying more devices and extending your contract if you’re happy with the phone you have. It’s not in their best interest to update your phone. Why do you think these kind of updates didn’t occur before the iPhone?
Apple is different. Apple actually cares about the end user. They care about you having a great experience with your device. The company has a fundamentally different business paradigm infused into its DNA by late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs: they make good products for themselves and just so happen to sell it to you because you like it, too. And they way they make their products work together and the way the ecosystem is woven in the experience, if you have a good experience with one device you’re likely to buy another from them. This kind of experience is different from just general “brand recognition.”
So, Apple will continue to treat their customers well, selling the best quality products that last and providing long term updates and supports to them. Android handset manufacturers and carriers will continue to try to entice you into buying newer devices more frequently so they sell more units and keep you under contract. In other words…
They’ll never “fix” Android because this is how they want to use it.
We’ll welcome you to Apple’s greener pastures when you’re ready to make the switch. And you definitely won’t regret it.