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Android Cellphones

Android Update Alliance Already Struggling 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the actions-speak-louder-than-words dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Earlier this year many Android phone vendors and U.S. wireless carriers made a long-awaited promise, which was to push timely OS updates to all new Android phones. Seven months in and especially with the release of Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), PCMag decided to reach out to all those vendors and wireless carriers to see how things were coming along. Brace yourselves Android fans, you're not going to like the responses."
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Android Update Alliance Already Struggling

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:09PM (#38401448)
    Android is dead!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by toadlife (301863)

      Should've used a bsd kernel as the base instead of a linux kernel. The stable driver ABI would make upgrading kernels (which is sometimes required when moving to new versions of Android) easier.

      I say this half jokingly and half seriously.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:28PM (#38401722)

        Irrelevant. The kernel isn't the issue, the applications require a certain level of hardware to work effectively. If that wasn't enough, all these companies are in the business of selling new units, not keeping old tech going on the latest OS and applications.

        Apple do the same, they just have a tiny selection of devices and only churn a single model (storage options vary) once a year, or thereabouts. These other companies have a shotgun approach and have to compete on function/price between themselves, not on whether it has a fruit badge on the back. No mobile device company wants their current gen tech to last longer than the next incarnation. Just look the the home PC market to see where that leads. Sooner of later the tech is sufficient for the vast majority of people. We're a way off this with mobile tech, but it can't be far away. Quad core CPUs out in a few months, 1GB RAM in a fucking phone, plenty of storage for most people, screen of all sizes from the tiny iphone's up to near slate sizes. Two years, three? Not long that's for sure.

        • Re:Netcraft confirms (Score:5, Interesting)

          by toadlife (301863) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:38PM (#38401866) Journal

          Irrelevant. The kernel isn't the issue,

          Oh really?

          Then why are most of the bugs I see with new Samsung releases kernel related[1] bugs?

          I understand the crapware that vendors integrate into ROMs takes time, but to dismiss the kernel as irrelevant part of the process is naive. Samsprint started working on their Gingerbread update for the Epic 4G early this year (I think around May) and barely released it in November, and due to issues are now working on a new update.

          [1] I say this as someone who has had to patch my own kernel [xda-developers.com] to prevent the broadcom chipset driver from spontaneously rebooting my phone.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            Most of us can't peek under the covers, so it's entirely possible that Samsung starts porting new versions of Android early and really are running into a significant number of kernel related issues. I will give them that.

            I think where Samsung is falling down is in keeping the users informed. Months go by with either silence or a grudging "we're working on it" with no indication of whether your model is included in "it" or how long "working" is estimated to take, and the users start to become justified in

            • by jrumney (197329)
              I would have thought that on Slashdot of all places, people would understand how it goes. Samsung salesman sees Google's announcement that ICS is in testing and decides he wants to announce that all Samsung phones will have the production ready update by next week to drive sales. Management agrees this is a good idea, but engineering points out that the timeline is unrealistic and all their engineering capacity is busy on new products. This just reinforces management's belief that engineering is lazy and d
          • by gl4ss (559668)

            fixing the kernel bugs is pretty straightforward - they're clearly bugs.

            now - a committee designing with 20 carrier product managers "what do the customers want?" takes time and lots of it and the end result is a piece of shit.

            it's pretty clear samsung didn't allocate much resources to epic 4g or had trouble even defining what should be in the release(or the carrier couldn't figure it out - also you should note that between may and june there's the "dead" months of summer when nothing happens, which could

        • Re:Netcraft confirms (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:43PM (#38401962)

          Not really. The lack of a stable ABI *is* a major problem, because it means that every time a new version of Android gets released that needs a newer kernel than the latest "official" one available for the phone, every proprietary loadable kernel module (for things like 4G data on carriers like Sprint) ends up breaking. As far as I know, not even the Nexus S 4G has buildable driver source available for its wimax interface, which is why every guerrilla ICS ROM for it has broken 4G. It's even worse for HTC phones, because they don't even release their drivers as proper loadable kernel modules -- they just compile them straight into a monolithic binary blob, then rip out the proprietary bits and dump the unbuildable kernel source on the curb.

          This is the #1 problem Google really needs to solve -- binary driver breakage every time the kernel gets upgraded. Maybe they could create a stable thunking layer that allows a .ko built for a 3.(n+X) kernel to keep working on a 3.(n+Y) kernel, so every new Android release won't subject us to the usual cycle of 4G data that's instantly and semi-eternally broken. Or maybe just force the phone makers to blindly compile and release new unsupported proprietary .ko files for drivers with the latest kernel within 5 days of Google's official source drop, with the usual disclaimers that the new .ko files are untested, unwarranted, will cause birth defects, and might make you hunting for chocolate at 3am.

          • by Microlith (54737) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:29PM (#38402654)

            The lack of a stable ABI *is* a major problem

            Only for driver vendors that refuse to cooperate with the kernel community. They want to take advantage of Linux as a platform but not contribute to its success. The Kernel should be forced into a static ABI set for the sake of uncooperative, unhelpful vendors.

            As far as I know, not even the Nexus S 4G has buildable driver source available for its wimax interface, which is why every guerrilla ICS ROM for it has broken 4G. It's even worse for HTC phones, because they don't even release their drivers as proper loadable kernel modules -- they just compile them straight into a monolithic binary blob, then rip out the proprietary bits and dump the unbuildable kernel source on the curb.

            Sounds like a pile of shitty hardware vendors and shitty handset vendors. Pointing at the kernel ABIs is incorrect.

            Or maybe just force the phone makers to blindly compile and release new unsupported proprietary .ko files for drivers with the latest kernel within 5 days of Google's official source drop, with the usual disclaimers that the new .ko files are untested, unwarranted, will cause birth defects, and might make you hunting for chocolate at 3am.

            Or maybe these hardware vendors could actually start upstreaming their shit. Google too, since their shit infects so many drivers so deeply that many have to be rewritten to be pushed upstream.

            • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday December 16, 2011 @05:55PM (#38403884)

              > Sounds like a pile of shitty hardware vendors and shitty handset vendors. Pointing at the kernel ABIs is incorrect.

              Great strategy. It worked brilliantly as a way to bring open-source winmodem drivers to Linux. Oh, wait... it didn't, did it? We basically had proprietary binary drivers for Lucent winmodems that worked under a few specific distros, and IBM eventually did the same for THEIR audio/modem chipset for Thinkpads.

              Yeah, someone finally did develop a true open-source HSP driver for his college thesis a couple of years ago and released it to the community, but for all intents and purposes, there were never open-source Linux winmodem drivers until almost a decade after they ceased to actually *matter* to anybody. It won't do us much good to get true open-source wimax drivers for a phone like the Nexus S 7 years after Sprint has switched to LTE.

              This IS the #1 fundamental problem of American Android users, because it's the one problem we can't fix ourselves. Bootloaders get cracked, and just about any phone can be JTAG-reflashed if you're really determined. But without a way to use a radio modem (or camera, or GPS, or ???) .ko compiled for 3.x under a 3.y kernel, we'll be forever running into brick walls every time a new version of Android gets released, and forced to choose between ${new-version} and fast data/gps/camera/etc.

        • by peragrin (659227) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:09PM (#38404664)

          It is the shotgun approach that is the problem.

          If HTC only released 2-3 models a year(plus localized variants for CDMA, GSM , etc) they would sell more overall units which means they could buy more product in bulk, which would lower the costs and increase their revenue. Apple is making money on the iphones because they are buying parts for cheap in bulk bulk quanties.

          a smaller selection makes software modifications faster and easier too, and allows you to update them more easily.

          Someday one of the android companies will realize quanity applies to more than just end products but also product units sold too.

      • Re:Netcraft confirms (Score:4, Informative)

        by iluvcapra (782887) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:39PM (#38401876)

        It would solve hardware driver issues, but carriers also do a lot of customization with apps and skins. Sense UI, Motoblur and Carrier IQ don't depend on a stable ABI.

  • "Pledges" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanTheStone (1212500) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:14PM (#38401530)
    Why is anyone surprised? A pledge, not backed up by, say, a money-back guarantee, is meaningless. If these people could get a refund for their phones if they weren't updated, the "pledge" would have teeth. This is why nobody trusts companies who pledge not to sue over patents. This is why people didn't trust AT&T about their merger pledges. Pledges are just for PR and they mean nothing.
    • Re:"Pledges" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:17PM (#38401588)
      If Google actually did something regarding Android things would be much better. This is exactly the reason why you cannot just throw something out and expect companies to do what you intended. Google needs to set certain rules regarding using Android on mobiles, and that includes updating your phones. Manufacturers aren't going to that otherwise because it means lost profits. But Google is incompetent, so they will not do that. You can even leave the source open, just demand that companies respect those rules if they want to use the trademark Android.
      • Google needs to set certain rules regarding using Android on mobiles, and that includes updating your phones

        Yeah, except then Android would just be another proprietary cell phone OS.

        You can even leave the source open, just demand that companies respect those rules if they want to use the trademark Android.

        Then they won't use the trademark. So what?

        • Re:"Pledges" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bonch (38532) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:23PM (#38401656)

          Yeah, except then Android would just be another proprietary cell phone OS.

          That's not an actual argument; it's just a label you're attaching to the idea of quality control. Platforms need leadership or they descend into chaos. Look at desktop Linux.

      • Re:"Pledges" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by metamatic (202216) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:41PM (#38401918) Homepage Journal

        Google needs to set certain rules regarding using Android on mobiles, and that includes updating your phones.

        They do. If you want a phone like that, buy a Nexus.

    • CyanogenMod Fanboy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:35PM (#38401832) Homepage

      Screw their pledge, just let us root our phones easily. CyanogenMod has treated me better than any carrier or handset maker, and it will never ever come with Carrier IQ: http://www.cyanogenmod.com/blog/cyanogenmod-will-never-have-carrier-iq [cyanogenmod.com]

      They plan Ice Cream Sandwich via CM9 for almost any CM7 (current version of CM) compatible phone they already support, except for really old models like the G1.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:36PM (#38402762) Homepage Journal

        Screw their pledge, just let us root our phones easily.

        This.

        What burns my ass is how phone makers continually work to "secure" the devices they make against not criminals, but the people who actually purchase and own said devices.

      • by peppepz (1311345) on Friday December 16, 2011 @06:46PM (#38404480)
        Well said.

        My personal experience: HTC never released any update for my phone, which was running (a very buggy implementation of) Android 1.6. For half a year after the phone was released, they told us users that they were trying to port Eclair to the phone, and then they dropped any effort, saying that the phone hardware couldn't support it - coincidentally, they launched a new equivalent phone model natively running Froyo.

        Then I decided to void my warranty and I installed CyanogeMod on my phone: now I'm running the latest version of Gingerbread, and it runs acceptably well, certainly much better than the buggy Donut rom that HTC had originally put on the phone.

        A few hackers, in their spare time, with no documentation about the hardware, and without the software keys theoretically required to obtain full access to it, managed to do what the multinational corporation that designed the phone said was impossible to do. To me, this means that manufacturers do not want you to be able to upgrade your phone's software without buying new hardware for them. Hardware fragmentation, kernel drivers, processing power are just excuses they adduce. If Cyanogen can do it, so HTC/Samsung/Motorola could.

        • by LeDopore (898286)

          "A few hackers, in their spare time, with no documentation about the hardware, and without the software keys theoretically required to obtain full access to it, managed to do what the multinational corporation that designed the phone said was impossible to do. "

          Point taken. However, you might be surprised at how little resourcefulness can be found in multinational corporations. The best talent doesn't always find its way there, and sometimes a small number of brilliant individuals can make progress stagge

    • Exactly. It's just like Home Depot touting their "Guaranteed lowest prices". What the hell does that even mean? I have mod points, but I wanted to post.
  • Fragmentation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:15PM (#38401544)

    Android is more like a collection of related but not entirely compatible operating systems. The inability to have a consistent version of the operating system across current smartphones is really surprising for something that's supposed to be an open source project, but one of the big drawbacks of Android is how much control Google gives the carriers over your phone.

    • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:30PM (#38401742) Homepage Journal

      The same is true for Linux isn't it?

      From a software vendor point, it's one of the main reasons not to develop for such a platform. Supporting multiple Windows versions is already a pain for a smaller software developer.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Android is more like a collection of related but not entirely compatible operating systems. The inability to have a consistent version of the operating system across current smartphones is really surprising for something that's supposed to be an open source project, but one of the big drawbacks of Android is how much control Google gives the carriers over your phone.

      Sounds like someone has very little understanding of what Android is or does. The source can be compiled and run on nearly any device bearing the "Android" name, the big issue is that they are each so unique that it takes a significant amount of dedicated code for each device to perform to the fullest of its ability. Trying to make a version that literally ran on every single phone and tablet would result in a monstrously bloated OS that was impossible to update on its own anyway, so these sorts of complai

  • Why do you think.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrBear (63712) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:17PM (#38401592)

    Why do you think Steve Jobs pushed to hard with AT&T and demanded full control over the OS? So shit like this wouldn't happen with the iPhone platform.

    Money grubbing cell carriers would rather have your device locked down, so if you want the latest features, you buy a new phone.

    And yet people are still surprised that Android is becoming more fragmented every day. The drawing has been on the wall since the launch of the the OS.

    • by bonch (38532) *

      If Google isn't careful, the problems may become great enough to allow Microsoft to slip in and gain non-trivial marketshare, at the very least in the enterprise where they have long-standing relations. Based on Eric Schmidt's recent remarks, Google is betting on having so much marketshare that people don't have a choice but to work with them, whether they "like it or not."

    • by obarthelemy (160321) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:37PM (#38401856)

      is it though ?

      http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html [android.com]

      2.2 + 2.3 = 85%
      Add in 2.1 and you get to 95%

      95% covered in 3 minro revisions doesn't seem too bad, especially with the speed of Android versions slowing down.

      • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:50PM (#38402052)

        2.2 to 2.3 is far more than a "minor revision". It is a new major version considering all the system changes, UI changes, API additions and updates, etc.

        • by jareth-0205 (525594) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:56PM (#38406476) Homepage

          2.2 to 2.3 is far more than a "minor revision". It is a new major version considering all the system changes, UI changes, API additions and updates, etc.

          Not really. There are changes but Android is remarkably good at keeping newer version backwards compatible. I've been professionally developing for Android for 2 years and I can remember perhaps a couple of times I've needed special code to deal with different versions.

          The real problem with fragmentation is different hardware device implementations (and bugs), and different hardware speeds. There aren't easy ways to work out what class of device you're instlaled on, and lowest-common-denominator programming slips in.

          People focus on OS versions and I have no idea why, I suspect they're not actually Android developers.

    • by Kenja (541830) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:39PM (#38401896)
      Yes. Thats why Apple release Siri for older phones. Its because they dont want you to buy the latest iProduct.

      Oh wait...
      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:20PM (#38402510)

        Yes. Thats why Apple release Siri for older phones. Its because they dont want you to buy the latest iProduct.

        No, that's because Siri is beta and they want to tune the thing with a reasonable amount of load before they push it out to all iOS5 owners.

        I'm sure there's some degree of marketing behind the choice as well, but the fact is that it's a technically sound choice with a good reason behind it as long as Siri eventually makes it to all iOS5 owners.

        I expect we'll see that mid-year, though it may not support the 3GS (that may lack the CPU to handle the audio encoding fast enough to get it to the server in a reasonable time).

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          Yes. Thats why Apple release Siri for older phones. Its because they dont want you to buy the latest iProduct.

          No, that's because Siri is beta and they want to tune the thing with a reasonable amount of load before they push it out to all iOS5 owners.

          Nothing says "small beta" like a national advertising campaign extolling the virtues of a phone that "you just talk to"... Or a launch event claiming it was a "Game changer" even though Android phones have had every bit of that technology (minus the self-reading SMS) already rolled into one app. Nope, that doesn't make sense, Apple would only do something with a sound technical basis, in the interest of the customers. I will be waiting with baited breath on the upcoming release of Siri for the iPhone 3GS

  • by pdxer (2520686) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:18PM (#38401598)

    It seems to me that phone vendors have not changed their mindset from the pre-smartphone era. Back then, no one cared about OS or version. You got an integrated product and it never changed. Today, it feels like phone makers still think "we put it together and ship it - this idea of later changing or upgrading the software is kind of weird to us."

    To them, a phone is complete and unchangeable one it leaves the factory. Alas for their mindset, consumers see phones as customizable, upgradeable devices. If they were $50 each, sure, just replace it, but at $500+ (even if it's stretched over two years), people are making a more significant investment and don't want to be left behind.

    • That is why you need someone running the platform. With iPhone there's Apple and with WP7 there's Microsoft. However, Google is just ignoring Android and thinking it works out just fine if they pass the control to phone vendors. Well, it doesn't. I doubt they will ever even realize this but continue making the same mistake again and again.
      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        However, Google is just ignoring Android and thinking it works out just fine if they pass the control to phone vendors.

        Google thought process: A Cupcake phone displays ads just as well as an ICS, and the phone vendors know more about selling phones than us, right? Who wants to go to all of the trouble of making individual users happy when making just Verizon happy will move 100,000 units at a time.

        It's a lot more fun to make million dollar deals with the "adults" that Run The Mobile World, while sniping at the "marketing" and "fanboi-sie" of somebody like Apple or Microsoft for actually attempting to make a relationship wi

      • If only they would buy a major phone vendor to lead by example. Somebody like Motorola.

    • This is why I always recommend sticking to the google controlled nexus series. google has complete control, carriers or the manufacturers themselves can't even lock it. Its the reference platform for apps and to top it all off, updates come quick.

      My Nexus one always had timely updates, it still competes with modern day non-nexus phones and iPhone wasn't even a competitor for what Nexus One offered.

      Just upgraded to Galaxy Nexus and its is a good phone, real good.

  • by Tekfactory (937086) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:18PM (#38401600) Homepage

    Still Android 2.3.4, just some crappy system Verizon version 5.5.893.XT75.Verizon.en.US

    I was so hopeful.

  • by LunaticTippy (872397) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:19PM (#38401614)
    All the phones I've owned, at least 10 of them have been obsolete before I had them. I don't have the expectation that my phone has the latest OS. I am currently using a work-issued blackberry curve 9300. People chuckle at it, but it is functional enough I don't spring for a second phone.

    I was hoping Google would be good about backwards-compatible updates but I am not surprised. Hardware changes so much it seems hard to make the OS compatible across all platforms. I don't get why people are so worked up about it. Your phone does what it does when you were all excited about it a few months ago, what's the big deal?
    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      Two reasons:

      1) Smartphones are defined by what apps they run. If you can't run the current, or at least a recent OS, then chances are you can't run any of the newer apps as well.
      2) Apple has no problem doing it. My 2.5 years old iPhone 3GS is running the latest OS.

      • It's sort of like the way I view computers. I never have the latest rig that can run the latest games at max framerate. I have a few-year-old machine that does everything I want. Same way with phones. I can use GPS navigation, most of the interwebs, and a pile of apps on my elderberry. I don't care that it isn't the latest OS and can't run everything. It does all it did when it was new, and a lot of stuff released since then, so I am happy.

        My girlfriend has an Android touchscreen something-or-other from a
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        My 3GS keeps telling me that the apps I try to download are not compatible with my phone.
  • ... but not surprised.

  • Another iPhone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:24PM (#38401680) Homepage Journal

    And this is the main reason why my next smartphone will be another iPhone. I have a bit of lock-in because of my existing apps, but that's less than $100, so I would not mind switching to something more free. Currently I'm still on my 2.5 years old iPhone 3GS, for as least as long as it still gets updates and the battery is good.

    Stories like this give me very little in Android, Google might lose to Microsoft what it gained the last couple of years very quickly.

    • We're just sheep apparently. Easily led from phone to phone.

    • Re:Another iPhone (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mrops (927562) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:39PM (#38401888)

      People are stupid. They compare any android device to iPhone. If you really want an alternative, stick to the Nexus series. I have had Nexus one and just upgraded to Galaxy Nexus. Carriers have no control, they are not even allowed to lock it. Google is in complete control. Don't go with any other Android phone, stick to Nexus.

      • Except (Score:4, Informative)

        by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:11PM (#38402384)

        Carriers have no control, they are not even allowed to lock [Galaxy Nexus]. Google is in complete control.

        Um, Verizon blocked Google Wallet, as they are working on a propriety - and no doubt to be a crap and insecure - competing service.

      • Re:Another iPhone (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rich0 (548339) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:48PM (#38402944) Homepage

        If you really want an alternative, stick to the Nexus series. I have had Nexus one and just upgraded to Galaxy Nexus.

        You mean the Nexus One that received what is likely to be its last update one year and two months after they stopped selling it, and only one year and six months after it was first announced? That is the phone that is already one major version behind the current release?

        The Nexus One is the longest-supported Android phone to date (certainly it received better support than the ADP which was the previous Google-branded phone and it stopped getting updates before they even stopped selling it). However, I'd hardly hold it up as an example of long-term commitment. I'll have to see what the Nexus S updates look like a year from today - I won't be holding my breath.

        The guy you responded to was talking about updates 2.5 years after buying the phone. No android phone has gotten an official update 2.5 years after the phone was even publicly announced, let alone discontinued.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          My iPhone 3GS is not running the most current version of iOS. Siri is part of the OS. My phone does not have it. Just incrementing the number does not make it an upgrade. Sending out half of an upgrade does not make it an upgrade.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JabberWokky (19442)

      I don't know... the lousy Apple III bug with the chips popping out is why I don't buy Apple stuff like the iPhone. I mean, I always judge a buying decision on the worst example within a large class of products, just like you.

      Psst... Android isn't a phone, it's an OS available on many products from many companies. Plenty of Android phones are regularly updated and have good hardware. This is about the market of all Android phones, and as you tend to buy *one* phone, rather than the entire market, it doesn

  • by suresk (816773) <spencerNO@SPAMuresk.net> on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:30PM (#38401746) Homepage

    I'm replacing my Droid Incredible next month, and this very issue is steering me towards an iPhone 4S even though I'm generally happy with other aspects of Android.

    If I'm locked into a contract for 2 years for a phone, I don't think it's incredibly unreasonable to expect updates (especially ones that relate to security, stability, or performance) for at least 18 months.

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:31PM (#38401770) Journal

    i mean, there are just so many clones! who knows what bus you use, is it ISA? EISA? PCI? what kind of memory does it use, EMS or XMS? which version of DOS do you want, 4 or 5? what about Windows -- windows 3 or WFW?

    there are just too many choices, too many options. the X86 based PC platform is dead. and so is the x86 processor.

    this is 1986 for crying out loud. people want stuff that is easy to use. not junk that you have to fiddle around with.

    • The point has to do with broken promises of OS updates not hardware variation.

      • Thus demonstrating one of the most important differences between a PC and a smartphone: you can upgrade your PC's OS on your own, without having to buy a new PC, without having to wait for your PC or OS vendor to do it for you.
      • by sootman (158191)

        Yeah, for that you have to look to Microsoft, who originally promised to run NT on x86, Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC. :-)

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Funny. And those sorts of problems were a bit later then 1986. As an aside, that's more like 1990. 1986 the issue was things like BIOS incompatibility.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:05PM (#38402280) Homepage

    To be clear: I am *NOT* an Apple fan. In fact, I won't own an iThing... well I have a Mac mini collecting dust but that's all.

    Apple CONTROLS its phones. From the beginning, it used its exclusivity with AT&T as a means to assure that AT&T would let them (mostly) have their way with the user experience of the device. And since the variety of the devices are very limited, making updates to the OS of the device is a bit more simple and is user controlled through iTunes. (Can iThings even get OTA updates?)

    Android manufacturers and the carriers are otherwise DOING IT WRONG. Between the two, they each blame the other for delays and these delays cause frustration for the users but also end up as additional new sales of new devices which is seemingly the only way to get "updates" these days if at all.

    So why do the makers want to delay?

    1. take developer time away from "new" things
    2. encourage the sale of new devices

    So why do carriers want to delay?

    1. they want to keep shopping for new and creative ways to resell their customers by adding new bloatware and spying apps
    2. encourage the sale of new devices and extended subscriber commitments

    Of course they won't admit to any of these reasons but they should be obvious to anyone paying attention.

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