The Jelly Bean Effect

June 27th 2012 is a historical date for Android. The launch of Jelly Bean (JB) sure is promising but there is another dark reason for this date to be historic. As spotted in a tweet “Today 90% of Android phones will be behind by not just one but by two generations of it’s OS!” which is in fact true and sad. As per the latest statistics only 7.1% of all Android devices are on the latest public release version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Google is trying really hard to push timely updates to all Android devices and in fact made a promising commitment in Google I/O 2011 that it is trying to sort it out with OEMs to provide timely updates to all Android devices for at least a period of 18 months from the time of device launch. But sadly things still seem to be the same. Most devices still lack even the older version of Android OS, the ICS. And now the latest version Jelly Bean has been announced.

With the intensifying competition the OEMs and carriers are forced to differentiate themselves from others. And for this it doesn’t take differentiation on the hardware front alone, it takes some major differentiation with the software as well and how the phone functions. Some customizations go deep into the functioning of the phone and naturally phones with such intense customization will require more resources and time to build updates. Google really has no control over how fast the updates are rolled out to Android devices apart from its own Nexus range of devices.

One ray of hope is the recently announced Platform Development Kit (PDK) by Google which helps hardware makers to easily port Android to their hardware. Google also promised a 2 to 3 months of early access to partnered hardware vendors so that they get to test the latest version of Android OS and push the updates early.

The coming months are quite exciting. All major OEMs will announce the list of current devices which will be updated with the latest version of Android OS, the Jelly Bean. Stay tuned.

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