Skip to main content

FCC Investigation May Change The Way Android Works

 
Android, frequently and updated aren't three words you generally find together in a sentence (unless the sentence is something like 'most Android handsets aren't frequently updated'). However with the increasing importance of our smartphones to all aspects of our lives, the potential financial risk they expose us to and the terribly fragmented state of the Android user base it looks like legislation may be on its way.
 
In the US the FCC has started an investigation into the slow delivery of security updates to Android handsets, a failing which exposes hundreds of millions of users worldwide to malicious attacks. They are unlikely to find a fix which fits with the current status quo.
 
The problem is a function of the way that Google, OEMs and carriers work. In order to get an update onto a user's handset it needs to pass through at least two and sometimes all three of those organisations before being pushed out.
 
That introduces delay and increases risk for Android users. The current state of operating system penetration in Android shows just how bad things are. Marshmallow has achieved just 7.5% share after six months of availability.
 
Whilst Nexus users can feel confident of receiving the updates they need, other OEMs have struggled to keep to a timetable for even the most recent flagship releases. Never mind the lower end and mid-range handsets, which seem to be abandoned almost from the moment they are announced.
 
So what options are there to improve the situation? Firstly Google needs to make fixes available more quickly. OEMs need to test and certify updates for more handsets and carriers need to get out of the process completely.
 
In reality that won't ever happen. So the FCC has to find another way out of the mess. And that's likely to be legislation which makes the OEMs or carriers responsible for delivering the updates. And compelling them to deliver updates to all smartphones for an extended period of time from the last date they are available for sale.
 
How will this change the Android market? I suspect that more and more low end phones will ship with default Android builds and no customisation because that's the only way to comply in a cost effective manner.
 
I also suspect that some of the larger, but unprofitable OEMs will see it as an indication that it's time to pack up their smartphone divisions and concentrate on something else.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…