Apple just announced its latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 14, you can review the changes here. There are a lot of interesting updates and features announced, my favorites are widgets and cycle navigation on Apple Maps. However, there is one aspect of the update that got the attention of many Android users: supported devices.
The devices which are eligible for iOS 14 are: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone SE (2nd generation) and iPod touch (7th generation)
This is a long list of devices and what makes it more impressive is the inclusion of iPhone 6S, a phone released almost five years ago. Android users asked why can’t older Android devices receive the same OS upgrades as iPhones? The biggest Android OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) Samsung released the S6, their flagship phone during a similar time period as iPhone 6S, yet the S6 stopped receiving the latest Android updates after two major upgrades, its latest OS version was Android 8.0, two versions behind the latest Android version. Why is the iPhone from the same time period running the latest iOS version and will get a future iOS version while the Android phone stopped getting Android updates?
To me the simple answer is money; lack of money flow actually.
Most, if not all, Android OEMs have zero incentive to push out any updates. Pushing out updates is not as simple as pressing a button; they must hire developers to compile the latest version on Android sent from Google, build it to run on its phone’s hardware, install their preinstalled apps to the new Android version, make other tweaks to fit their brand, test it out, and then can they finally push out an update. That all sounds expensive, it takes resources. Android OEMs get their revenue from direct device sales, a user using their phone for one day or ten years is irrelevant, the Android OEM gets the same amount of money…so why should they spend resources extending the useful lifetime of their old products? There is no benefit to them. Google fix this issue by creating incentives for Android OEMs.
Sharing PlayStore revenue
Google PlayStore is a great money maker…for Google. Users purchase Apps, purchase in-game purchase likes coins, and subscribe to services. For all of those activities, Google gets a cut by being the one that created the platform that connects App creators and App users. It should share this revenue with the Android OEMs as an incentive to keep updating the Android version.
By giving Android OEMs a share of PlayStore revenue if the PlayStore activity happened from an OEMs device this creates a powerful economic incentive to continuously update their older devices because they still generate revenue. On top of that, some OEMs might even lower prices for devices knowing they will make up the difference from PlayStore revenue. This will be good for consumers, I hope Google considers something like this.