This weekend I received a call from my mother. She said ‘This iPad says it needs a security update to iOS 9.3.4. Is that OK?‘ I said, ‘Yes, Mom, it’s OK.’ and didn’t hear back from her. It’s a phone call I get every time Apple pushes a new update to iOS and the result is always the same. It just works.
Therein lies one glaring difference between iPhone and iPad users on iOS and everyone else who owns an Android powered smartphone or tablet. For the most part, upgrades to iOS– even major ones– are easy and pain free for the vast majority of Apple’s customers, while the vast majority of Android device owners never upgrade. Never. Ever.
Here’s the math. iOS 10 is a few weeks away and a year after launching iOS 9 about 90-percent of all iOS devices have been upgraded to the latest, including my mother’s iPad mini and her iPhone (my father upgrades, too, but he doesn’t bother to call me). About a year ago Google pushed out the latest Android version, code-named Marshmallow. A year later slightly over 10-percent of all Android smartphones and tablets have Marshmallow installed, but a few hundred million such devices will never, ever see it. The rest are running even older versions of Android, and, likewise, will never upgrade to the latest versions.
iPhone and iPad users will look at that scenario and find it disgusting. Is it any wonder that Android is a toxic hell stew of malware? Users cannot even get necessary security updates. We Apple customers think of that as a problem, but one can argue that it’s actually good for Android device makers. How do you get a security upgrade onto an Android smartphone? Buy another Android smartphone.
This is called fragmentation and it has become an enormous problem for Android users and Android app developers who cannot keep their apps upgraded properly for the wide variety of Android hardware on the market. Is it any wonder that iOS apps are best of breed while Android apps have fewer features? iPhone and iPad customers actually buy software which makes the iOS ecosystem more profitable for most app developers whose overall costs often are much higher on Android where revenue is also lower.
Wait. There’s more. And it’s worse.
Google claims Android is open source, and maybe technically speaking that’s correct, but the search engine giant controls how Android plays with Google apps. Still, whenever Google issues an Android update there are hundreds of manufacturers who tinker and tweak it to match their hardware. Their new hardware. They’re not interested in upgrading old hardware because they don’t make money on hardware that has been sold already. They make money by selling new hardware.
If you own old Android hardware, too bad.
If you own old iPhone or iPad hardware, rejoice, because it’s likely your device runs better than it did when new, and when you decide to sell it you’ll get as much money as many Android devices cost new.