Here’s an interesting turn of events which highlights the differences and similarities Apple and Google take regarding operating system updates. It should be obvious that Apple wants most iPhone and iPad customers to move up to the latest iOS version. Nearly 70-percent of all iPhones and iPads in use are on the latest, iOS 8.x. Nearly 90-percent of the remaining iOS devices use iOS 7.x.
Meanwhile, Google’s latest Android version, Lollipop, released just weeks after iOS 8, has yet to hit the 1-percent mark. 46-percent of Android devices run Jelly Bean, then KitKat at 39-percent. All the others– Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Froyo; almost 1-billion devices– won’t receive security updates from Google. To be fair, earlier iOS versions also don’t receive many updates from Apple, either, but the vast majority of customers use the latest two versions.
Here’s the difference and how that fragmentation favors Google and Android device makers, vs. how Apple’s upgrade process favors customers and app developers.
Most Android devices are sold with a version of the OS which isn’t easily updated by customers or vendors. The incentive to update the customer’s device to the latest Android version just isn’t there for Google or the device vendor. With so many different hardware varieties and cell phone providers, the whole upgrade process would be enormously complex and fraught with massive customer service issues. Both Google and Android device vendor want the user to buy a new product to upgrade to the latest operating system because it benefits Google and the vendor.
Meanwhile, most Apple iPhones and iPads are running one of the last two major upgrades; iOS 8.x or iOS 7.x, with the vast majority of customers using the latest version. That’s how Apple wants it because it benefits customers and app developers. That’s one good reason why Apple’s iOS devices remain in use for many years. They keep working even as older products become hand-me-downs, and customers buy newer models.
Those differences highlight what has become the implied norm– fragmentation. Android, like Windows, has become synonymous with cheap and plastic. Meanwhile, iOS, like OS X and the Mac, has become synonymous with premium quality which lasts longer and is worth the extra money. That also explains why Apple’s products command 50-percent to 80-percent of the PC and smartphone industry’s profits.