As is the case with a few billion residents of planet earth, I have been duped and sucked into Google’s Little World Of Free™ for too long. Just look at the colorful Google logo? Doesn’t that just shout out ‘innocence?‘ Don’t you look at that logo and think ‘playful?‘
Playful. Innocent. Free. What’s not to like? As my father once said, “There is no free lunch” and that applies to Google as well. Android OS is free to cellphone makers to install on their systems but with certain provisos, and that include a large stack of free Google apps which are then used to track what you do and where you do it while you’re connected or not.
This week I read an interesting statistic that points out a major benefit of using Apple’s iPhone and iPad vs. an Android anything. Just weeks ago iOS 9 topped 90-percent penetration rate among Apple’s mobile device customers. That means more than 90-percent of all iPhones and iPads were running the latest iOS, released just a year ago. Compare that to Android’s Marshmallow, released at about the same time in 2015, which now runs on about 20-percent of all Android devices. Google’s latest Android OS, Nougat, released about the same time as iOS 10, doesn’t even make it to 1-percent.
Meanwhile, iOS 10 has passed 60-percent at the fastest adoption rate ever for a new Apple operating system.
Why the disparity? What difference does it make?
The disparity problem is ongoing because Google does not require cellphone makers to upgrade their customer’s devices because they would prefer customers simply to buy a new phone to get the latest Android OS. In the meantime, the vast majority of Android users suffer without security updates, suffer without annual upgrades to the latest versions, and, well, just suffer.
The difference and what it means should be obvious to thoughtful and considerate smartphone owners. Apple upgrades iOS every year, and around 90-percent of all functioning iPhones and iPads can handle the new version. That’s not the case with Android, where only a few smartphone models are eligible for upgrades and updates and that leaves them vulnerable to news exploits. And that explains why more than 98-percent of all mobile device malware belongs to Android OS.
Is Google ashamed of the disparity? No. Are cellphone makers ashamed of the disparity? No.
Google makes money by making you part of the product. Remember, that playful, colorful Google logo, and the cute little Android logo are designed to make you feel good about free software, but that same software tracks you. You’re not a Google customer. You’re a part of Google’s product as the company captures data from you and sells it to advertisers. Cellphone makers don’t make money with Android OS upgrades– it’s a troublesome expense and extra customer support– and would rather you buy a new phone if you want better security.
For now, Google’s business model works. For Google. For cellphone makers beyond Samsung, not so much (and Samsung has its own troubles what with all those exploding Note 7s floating around).
Google should be ashamed of how it treats Android users, but it’s not. That’s how it makes money.