Keeping Tabs On Planned Obsolescence

Perhaps the biggest problem Google faces with the Android platform is the distinct lack of updates made available from hardware manufacturers and carriers. Updates are treated as a nice-to-have, which leads to a “when we feel like it” release schedule. The result is delays, push offs, and broken promises.

The problem has gotten even worse with the introduction of the Galaxy Tab. Before manufacturers and carriers took the approach of “maybe” on the topic of updates. Most devices were designed to support later releases and the lack thereof was due to an absence of effort. The Tab is different because it was designed from the beginning to be an Android 2.x device despite Google’s own recommendation to wait for the tablet centric Android 3.x release. The Galaxy Tab was released at the end of October 2010 and the first Android 3.x tablets are set to be released in March 2011. The math reveals Samsung released a product with less than 6 months of viability before essentially being made obsolete.

For those who argue that there is nothing stopping Tab buyers from using their 2.x device after March, consider that most tablet applications will be designed for 3.0. Why would developers bother to support what will end up being a fairly small segment of the Android tablet market? This will leave Tab users stuck in 2010 with apps as well as operating system. Only the technically unaware will resolve to this fate, a group which I suspect is small compared to the gadget loving crowd that the Android tablet appeals to.

Remember when the iPhone was released in 2007? Remember all of the hoopla that came about when Apple cut the price of the iPhone and the ensuing rebate? Imagine what would have happened if instead a new iPhone was released that completely made it’s predecessor obsolete. Do you think the press would have taken notice? Do you think we would care?