Unlike iOS, Android Users Play Upgrade Roulette: Maybe you get it, maybe you don’t

Some of the cause for the updates is likely to be HTC, which only said 2010 phones would be updated. As such, the only HTC phones on Sprint to carry Android 2.2 are likely to be the Evo 4G and possibly the Legend. Samsung hasn’t explained any of its plans for the Moment, but the company has developed a pattern of declining to upgrade phones beyond one revision.

Only phones from 2010? Only one revision? Wow. That’s some harsh upgrade terms right there. And don’t think other hardware manufacturers and carriers will think any different.

For all the good press Android 2.2 has received, little has been written about the tiny percentage of phones that are actually going to run it. The vaunted Evo doesn’t have it yet. Even unreleased phones like the DroidX will debut with 2.1.

Notice that there isn’t just one upgrade villain. Various manufacturers and carriers will have their own rules about what’s happening. Too bad for the user who wants to upgrade but realizes the decision is not his.

Still, this is what Google wrought by design. Their goal is to get as many “Androids” out there as possible. Version consistency is not a priority because they all display Google’s mobile ads, which is the entire point of Android in the first place.

Though disappointed by this, I’m not surprised. I’ve compared the Android distribution philosophy to Windows Mobile before, and this is more proof of it.

Sure, Android is better than WinMo, but saying you run “Android”—unless you’re a geek—doesn’t tell us much because of the many hardware/software iterations. Typical users will be running the original version that came on the phone two years later when they buy a new one because upgrading was too much trouble, or they didn’t know they could, or it wasn’t an option. The more Android devices sell, the more this will be true. The carriers and manufacturers are too busy with the latest spec sheet-based offering (10 megapixels, anyone?) to worry about the user who bought one three months ago.

Compare this to the iPhone. Much is made of Apple’s yearly iOS introductions, with critics claiming it’s all hype or they’re just catching up. I disagree, but none of that matters. What matters is that every year iPhone owners get an upgrade that significantly improves their existing phone and it costs them nothing. They just plug into iTunes and click Install. Further, only with iOS 4 has Apple finally dropped a device. But that original iPhone is three years old, and was already “made new” twice; we’re not talking about an HTC phone bought seven months ago. 

The reason iPhone owners watch Apple’s new iOS announcements closely is because they know their phone can upgrade to it. Meanwhile, Android users excited by 2.2 a month ago are still waiting, most likely to be disappointed. 

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Oh Goody, Another iPhone vs. Android Feature List

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All the article “proves” is that it’s just as easy to devise a feature list favoring the iPhone as it is to favor Android. Big deal.

The inherent worth of a product is the total package, from the hardware to the software to the ecosystem. When measured on that scale I think the iPhone beats up Android and takes its lunch money. But you’ll never capture that in a feature list, can’t we just leave those to the marketing people?

Michael Arrington: Don’t Buy The HTC EVO, It Is A Seriously Flawed Device

If you want an Android phone right now, get a Nexus One. In January I believed it was by far the best phone on the market. The new iPhone 4, though, is clearly superior. I’d rather see you buy that device and deal with the Apple dictatorship than get a phone you aren’t going to be happy with.

Pretty strong words from Arrington. Especially when you consider that he abhors Apple, and has all but turned TechCrunch into a Google PR machine.

The New HTC EVO 4G: An Android Phone Designed For Geeks

What makes this thing better than any other device out there including the iPhone? (again, we’re talking hardware here)

Which does not make it better than the iPhone. Sheesh. How long before this sinks in?

Despite all Apple’s taught us about the sum of the parts being greater then the whole, and the complete experience determining a user’s satisfaction with a device, we still have geeky pundits drooling over tech marketing checklists. As if the spec sheet makes the device. It does not.

If this was the hardware in the next iPhone, how many of you out there would be upset?

Perhaps none, but that’s because it would still be the iPhone, offering the iPhone’s smooth integration and attention to detail. Shouldn’t that be an easy thing to understand by now?

I think Android phones should focus on getting the user experience right before chasing their marketing group’s buzz words. Then again, if you’re a phone designed for geeks you don’t have to bother, I guess.