Last week, we saw a Bloomberg report claiming that Google was making a list, checking it twice and finding out which OEMs were naughty and nice. In other words, Google was ranking Android OEMs based on how fast they pushed out updates to consumers. The list is internal – probably as a mental note for who Google should start poking if they lag behind. But the same report suggests that Google may start publishing this list to the public so we all can know who is hot and who is not when it comes to updates.
Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it and with Google already announcing Android N features, and Verizon Galaxy Note 4s just now seeing Marshmallow, well maybe that something the public needs to know about. After all, if updates are important to you as a consumer, you’re going to want to vote with your wallet for the candidate who is pushing out updates the quickest. But is this necessarily a good thing for Google to be doing?
Biting the hand that feeds
On the one hand, this is a list that could damn quite a few OEMs, placing targets squarely on their collective backs. Sure maybe you might say that’s a good thing, but not for the one with the target on its back. Suddenly, Android might not seem so attractive to these OEMs – is Microsoft still giving away Windows 10 Mobile? But even if there isn’t to be a defection – because let’s face it there probably wouldn’t be – it could make these OEMs less inclined to follow Google’s advice when it comes to things like hardware or skinning (or lack thereof).
Plus, delays to updates could be just as much carrier related as OEM related. Do you think the Note is entirely Samsung’s fault? I’m inclined to think Verizon might have something to do with it as well. Therefore, Samsung will be unfairly dinged for something that is out of its control. This isn’t really an A or B type of situation. Updates have many subtle layers when it comes to developing them, pushing them out, getting them approved, etc. It may not be as simple as “Samsung is slower than LG” for example.
Regardless of the reason, shouldn’t these OEMs be called to the carpet if they drag their feet. Sure, it may not entirely be their fault, but it’s not necessarily your fault when you wait until the last minute to pay your bills online and your internet goes down, is it? Well, bills still need to be paid, and consumers need to get updates, especially security updates. I’ll be 100% honest, if you want to whine that your phone doesn’t have the latest version of Android, well, I won’t have much sympathy for you, but security updates are another matter. If a publicly available list gets OEMs off their butts and into the development lab, then I’m all for it.
Plus, there is always the fact that for the average consumer, updates aren’t all that critical. Most people won’t care if they’re running Marshmallow or Neapolitan (#ThereIsNoSpoon) as long as Snapchat still works. It’s really only techy geeks like us that put a lot of weight on the software on our phones. So if Google wants to publish a naughty or nice list for the world to see, it probably won’t affect sales all that much, unless of course Google is will to match Samsung dollar for dollar advertising this list. Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
Would it matter?
What it all boils down to is Google can publish its list, or not and at the end of the day it won’t affect OEMs where it counts – in the wallet – so it probably won’t matter either way. So it may as well go ahead and push the publish button so those who do care about this stuff can know, and those who don’t, won’t care either way.
Unless I’m wrong, which has happened once or twice before. What do you think? Should Google call out OEMs that are a little lackluster in their update procedures? Or do you think it’s none of the public’s business? Would you weigh a future purchase decision on a list like this? Why or why not? Pull out your wallets and step into the voting booth and let’s see if we can figure this out.