We just asked Andy Rubin how the 18-month update commitment will work in light of every manufacturer’s customizations — a source of considerable heartache in the Android upgrade picture so far. His answer? They’re “actively thinking it out right now” with the partners that have been announced — they’ve been “tasked with figuring out how to make it work.” He says details should start to emerge in the next few weeks, but we imagine there’ll be some heated conversations behind closed doors in the process of banging this out.
Talking about the size and constituency of the partnership so far, Rubin says that “it’s an open invitation” to any manufacturer or carrier that wants to participate — but that it made sense to start out small for the sake of manageability. Long term, “there’s no reason not to have everyone in it.”
Well isn’t that terribly encouraging? What Google announced today about better updates isn’t even anything yet. I actually really enjoyed the keynote and i’m excited to see more of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but I really don’t see how this new update initiative is going to work out, mainly because it isn’t an initiative yet and it’s still being figured out with each party. The deals will probably end up being fragmented from carrier to carrier and manufacturer to manufacturer, causing yet more confusion for the consumer who think things are going to get better but still have no idea how.
The phrase “new devices will get updates for 18 months” also suggests getting as little as two updates over 18 months and then being allowed to be abandoned entirely, which i’m sure will be the case for some of the involved parties as a complete cop-out. The fact that companies like HTC and Motorola struggle to update phones to the latest version of Android because of their elaborate skins just instills even more doubt.
What really sent a shiver down my spine though was the use of the term “If the hardware allows” which although could be Google just being realistic, makes me think of the 2GHz dual core chips which we’re supposed to be seeing by next year, if any of the manufactures went all in with a new skin optimized for the 2GHz processor they could completely abandon former customers and leave them versions behind, just like they have been. To be clear though, i’m not hating on Google here, i’m super excited about Ice Cream Sandwich and all the stuff its offering which i’m hoping Apple will follow suit with when they show off iOS 5 at WWDC, but i’m just pointing out the gaping wholes in Google’s announcement which haven’t quite been explained yet, it could all work out but i’m doubting it will, and it’ll be the customers who lose out, sold on a false promise.