Want Android 4.0 or Google Chrome on Your Phone? Don’t Buy a Motorola!

Want Android 4.0 or Google Chrome on Your Phone? Don't Buy a Motorola!

Recently Motorola talked about the difficulty and complexity of updating the operating system on phones, placing the blame for the ‘expectations game’ squarely on Google and how they choose to roll things out:

When Google does a release of the software … they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped. The rest of the ecosystem doesn’t see it until you see it. Hardware is by far the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It’s a big machine to churn.

So when Google released Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich a few months ago alongside the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it was sort of like the way Apple does things – it was designed, optimized and released for exactly one phone. Then they simply cast it out to the world to deal with.

The expectations game is that people think that once the new OS is released, hardware makers will immediately begin working on implementing it on new releases. I have said as much, that releasing a Gingerbread phone after the end of (calendar) Q1 2012 is simply unacceptable. Well, I would take that further and say that making users buying a phone that was brand new in Q1 wait beyond the end of Q2 is also unacceptable.

I guess that means I have a decision to make … because I just got a Motorola Droid 4 and Motorola just released a timeline of updates that doesn’t even have an estimated roll-out for any of their recent high-profile releases! Here is the list:

Want Android 4.0 or Google Chrome on Your Phone? Don't Buy a Motorola!

As you can see, there are some phones identified for Q2 (business, not calendar), some for Q3 (April – June), and others in the limbo of “Evaluation & Planning, Further details to follow.” Those include the Droid Razr, Razr Maxx and Droid 4 among others.

I look at it this way: if a new version of Windows was releasing on July 1st, you would expect hardware vendors to have been playing with it for a while and to offer an upgrade path. If a laptop came out on October 1st and had no path to an update and no indication if there ever would be an update … the product would be a commercial disaster. Yet that is exactly where we are (once again) with Android.

Many said that ‘Ice Cream Sandwich will fix fragmentation’. Well, time to meet reality – it didn’t happen. And I am with Motorola on this one – it is all on Google. If Google is interest in the end-user (i.e. us), they need to work with hardware makers before, during and after the release of new software. But again, Google isn’t in this for the end user … or even for helping the handset maker or carriers. They really don’t care about any of that stuff. How do I know? Their actions are 100% consistent – and have nothing to do with ensuring customer satisfaction, helping handset makers build loyalty, or easing things for carriers.

Android has massive market share, make no mistake … but think back to 2006 when the market divided into RIM, Windows Mobile and Symbian. And while I love my Droid 4, it came loaded with crapware – like 99% of Android phones – after one day it has already been altered to work around definciencies of Gingerbread. It is SO MUCH like the HTC Touch Pro 2 from 2009!

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

1 Comment on "Want Android 4.0 or Google Chrome on Your Phone? Don’t Buy a Motorola!"

  1. I lay the blame for the inability of Motorola to give an estimated date for Droid 4, Bionic, and the Razr series mostly on Verizon Wireless. The similar Atrix models are set for Q3 rollouts, while the XT928 Chinese model – which is the same as the Razr – gets a Q2 upgrade.

    I have a few theories for why the VZW phones are undefined:

    – Verizon’s approval proces is arcane and too unpredictable to promise a date. We’ve seen that over ad over with Android phones. The Bionic had a software upgrade out for testing in December and it was finally released OTA last week. Ridiculous.

    – perhaps Verizon has the contractual ability to change the bloatware mix on OTA releases, and the carrier and Moto are still negotiating over which bloatware apps must be installed. As the Bionic release I mentioned above included a few extra bloatware apps, I think that this may be an issue as well. I don’t think that it’s Motorola who is deciding on the bloatware apps (though I could be wrong about that.)

    All this said, I will throw out the devil’s advocate questions about Gingerbread on the Droid 4: what is it about ICS that you cannot do on a Droid 4 with GB? The only things that I can think of are the better, real-time voice dictation and the better support for dual core processors. Perhaps the better GMail client and the new Chrome browser beta as well – though Dolphin HD on the Droid 4 is great, and the GMail client on GB is just fine. Anything else?

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