Google-owned Motorola Mobility (MM) has cancelled plans to upgrade three of its 4G handsets to the latest Android version 4.0, aptly named Ice Cream Sandwich (as support for it melts away). The reason being given is that MM wants to ensure optimum performance for the consumer, tantamount to saying that Android 4.0 is not able to deliver that, at least not on the Atrix 4G, Electrify and Photon smartphones.
Needless to say, the MM user community was not too chuffed at the news after being promised the upgrades last February. Last month, Motorola Mobility pledged to give a $100 credit to consumers who purchased an Android device that is not in line to upgrade to Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean. Presumably this offer will now be extended to those that won't even see the version 4.0 upgrade, or maybe not.
All of this raises questions about the whole Google/Android/Motorola tie up and the repercussions for the rest of the Android community. The constant releases of new Android versions, with cutesy food names, that may or may not be embraced by handset makers to be offered as an upgrade, means that Android device buyers are at their mercy. This has created a very fragmented market with multiple versions of the OS being released on a number of phones at the same time. How does the unwary buyer know what's what, and does he even care?
If Google itself can't produce handsets that are upwardly compatible then why would other makers even bother? There's something not right about Google competing head-on with their 'partners', not even Microsoft does that (yet). It could also explain why Android phone makers are releasing models that use other operating systems and why some makers are openly developing their own OS.
Whether you like the Apple model or not, you have to agree that there us absolutely no confusion where an iPhone user stands. He can upload the latest version of iOS anytime, over the air or via his PC. He knows it will work with his model because the software checks to insure compatibility before uploading. He knows that if there is a problem on his handset it will likely be fixed because he won't be the only one that has it.
So it comes down to what consumers really want and like. It seems from the backlash that MM is copping on the internet forums* customers don't like NOT having the choice to upgrade.
* Yes, I know, 'fora' is the correct plural of 'forum' but my American spell-checker/corrector just won't have it!