According to the latest Google’s monthly Android platform distribution numbers, only 0.7% of all Android devices run on the latest iteration of Android, Nougat (7.0 & 7.1.1). Majority of android devices (33.4%) are running on Android Lollipop, which is over two years old. Android Marshmallow runs on 29.6% of all android devices, while 22.6% are still stuck on the three-year old Android KitKat. iOS, on the other hand, has really impressive stats. The latest iOS 10 runs on 76% of all iPhones. Clearly there is a problem here, and no, the problem is not Android itself. Samsung recently announced that it will be updating its 2015 flagships to Nougat, Sony also made a similar announcement and to prove my theory, the 2014 Nexus flagship, Nexus 6, also received Android Nougat. So, if Android isn’t the problem, what is?
Smartphone manufactures are the ones to blame, or maybe it’s us the consumers? Here’s my argument. We yearn for cheap smartphones, especially in developing countries such as Kenya and other emerging markets. In the US, a $400 phone would pass as cheap, in emerging Markets, that’s expensive. In Kenya, Infinix dominates the smartphone market and they have achieved this by giving their customers what they want – affordable (sub $200) smartphones with great build quality. Let’s look at the Infinix Zero 4, for example, a great smartphone with superior build and impressive specs – 5.5″ FHD display, 3GB RAM, 32 GB Internal, 4G, fingerprint reader, 3200mAH battery with fast charging capabilities, 16MP Camera with OIS and Laser Auto Focus and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. These specs are enough to make anyone desire the phone for that price. So what do Infinix do to keep the price so low? They do run ads, so we cannot say they have no marketing budget, and apart from the corners they cut on the processor (which is till good btw), they still need to cut the cost somewhere else – the software.
when it comes to software updates, that’s where you see the difference between the Zero 4 and the Galaxy S7
I don’t mean that Infinix have bad software (it’s good enough for the average consumer), but when it comes to software updates, that’s where you see the difference between the Zero 4 and the Galaxy S7. Manufacturers need to pay developers to create the software, so each time there is a new Android version, the developers need to be paid to update existing smartphones. For a $700 phone, the cost for software updates is included in the price, but on the $200 phone, you get what you paid for – getting stuck on the same Android version. Some manufacturer’s (such as Infinix) do try to update their cheap phones, but the speed and quality of the software cannot be compared to the highly priced phones. Further more, a high percentage of consumers do not care about software updates, they just care about the specs and since they do not ask for software updates, manufacturers will not work on them.
So, next time you are about to complain that your phone does not receive any updates, just remember that you probably did not pay to receive the updates.