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AT&T CEO Has No Idea How Android Phones Get Updated (It Would Seem)

Eric McBride
3

I really hate finger pointing. When a group of people who are all part of a project blame each other as the excuse for not getting the job done, it just ends up making the entire group of competant people look really really lame. When it comes to Android updates, the finger pointing is at an all time high. Some blame the carriers, some blame manufacturers, some blame hardware, and some blame Google. Google blames X, who then blames Y, who then blames X again along with Z, and so on and so on. Pretty vicious circle. So who's right? Back in February I wrote about a Motorola employee stating that Google is actually to blame for the slow updates. Well now it's AT&T taking a stab at the big G, as their CEO recently and publically blamed Google for slow Android updates. The question is, who really is to blame?

There's no denying it's an issue

AT&T Randall Stephensen was recently asked by a reporter at the Milken Global Conference why some Android devices aren't updated as quickly as AT&T often promises. His reply was:

"So yeah it's an issue. Google kind of determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. Often times that's a negotiated arrangement“. He then later backtracked a bit and stated that "that's an ambiguous answer because I can't answer it in this setting".

The problem is, what he stated completely goes against the understanding we (and alot of other reporting sites apparently) had of how updates occur after speaking with carriers directly. What I also was always told was that Google releases a new version of Android via the Nexus device for that year, then releases updates to handset manufacturers to add their own skins, and then to carriers for testing. Carriers then at that time also add their own software branding, which is mostly 3rd party apps and crapware that add little to no value to the actual device.

It actually makes sense that the carrier gets the phone last for testing, as it ensures phones work on their network and lowers the chance of users returning them. If this is indeed the way it works though, it would seem that OEM's and carriers are who actually causes the most delays, not Google. So what the hell is Randal talking about when he says "that's a negotiated issue"?

A difference in opinion

Google was also apparently just as confused, and issued this statement:

“Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.  Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.”

Nobody cares who fault it is. Just fix it please

AT&T seems commited to Android, which is a good thing. But what nerves me is that someone is lying here. Motorola blames Google and hardware as the culprit, and stated that "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. First there's hardware support, then the layering in of custom software from manufacturers like Motorola, and finally, phones must be re-certified by carriers, taking more time". Now the AT&T CEO blames Google, even though to me from the way he answers, it seems he may have no idea of how the process actually works. The video of him can be viewed here and should start automatically in the spot where the Android conversation begins. If it doesn't for some reason, you can skip to 44:35 to see where he begins his statement.

For me, it really seems like everyone (Google, carrier, OEM, hardware manufacturers) is a bit to blame, and instead of finger pointing, isn't it better to get working on a better solution?

What do you guys think? Who is the real culprit when it comes to creating delays in Android updates?

Picture credits: www.insidecaledon.com, www.android.com, www.lifeofandroid.com, www.androidstickers.com, and ec.mashable.com (cut together and edited by myself and Kamal)

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Comments

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  • abul kasim May 9, 2012 Link

    wat is that min

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  • Niels Christiansen May 9, 2012 Link

    To sum up my view: I'd like Google to cater more for the diversity of H/W instead of only writing for one specific device, and also for carriers to be written out of the equation.

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  • Eric McBride May 9, 2012 Link

    Would make a lot of sense man. All focus on the Nexus in terms of updates isnt working at all.

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