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Thursday,April 17,2014
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EXCLUSIVES 

Android Owners Being Left Behind, Study Claims

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A new study has revealed that Android phones have a bad history of not getting the latest OS upgrades, often leaving them several versions behind. The Understatement's Michael Degusta tracked 18 different Android phones shipped in the U.S. through the middle of 2010, and found that most have not received major OS upgrades or even minor support patches, even though they're still under contract. Fragmentation has been such a huge issue with Android for so long that it has almost become an understatement.

Degusta has lifted the lid off several specific items:

  • 7 of the 18 Android phones tracked never ran a current version of the operating system.
  • 12 of 18 only ran a current version of the OS for a matter of weeks or less.
  • 10 of 18 were at least two major versions behind within their two-year contract.
  • 11 of 18 stopped getting any support updates less than a year after release.
  • 13 of 18 stopped getting support updates before sales were halted or shortly thereafter.
  • 15 of the 18 don't run Gingerbread, which shipped in December 2010.
  • With the debut of Ice Cream Sandwich, every device tracked will be another major version behind.
  • At least 16 of 18 will almost certainly never get Ice Cream Sandwich.
"I think the Android fragmentation issue is a problem on many levels. I just don’t think we should be surprised by the corporate behavior and consumer willingness to play along that allows it to exist," says Warner Crocker, a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. "The chart obviously wants to compare Android to Apple here. There is some merit in that. But recently Apple has embarked on its own path that has some fragmentation issues dotting the landscape. The difference here is that Apple denies certain newer functionality to existing devices so it can sell the newer version. I don’t think that’s a secret. With Android there just doesn’t seem like there is a plan at all. You can get angry in either case, but it is at least easier to understand and focus the anger when there is a plan behind it," says Crocker.

To try to remedy the problem, Google announced an effort this summer to draft guidelines on how swiftly Android devices would get updated.

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