Nougat feast

If you are in the IT world and you hear Kitkat, Marshmallow and Nougat you will think Google.

These are all versions of the Android mobile operating system. Android is now on 80% of the world's mobile phones. Huge market share when compared to Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Windowsphone. Blackberry now sell "secure" Android phones. Which should tell you something about Android "security".

Apple do well out of iphone as a premium device that makes a lot of money. Microsoft have now integrated Windows 10 so much into all their products that Windows 10 Mobile is now just a compiler switch and costs next to nothing to produce. Microsoft just produce a couple of reference models now and rely on partners to make Windowsphone with no license fees for devices below 8 inch screens. Basically free.

Google is in a different position. Android is free. There are literally thousands of Android variants and you can pick up a tablet for very little cash. Google have partners that make Google branded phones once a year but most Android phones are not Google. Google earns money from advertising and the Play Store. Microsoft gets the most money from Android directly because of the Microsoft technology in Android. Microsoft makes an estimated $2 billion per year from Android.

Saying Android's success is a Microsoft success sounds daft but financially it's true!

Android's numeric success has led to thousands of compilations of Android and thousands of versions. The only real benchmark has been the regularly updated Google Nexus devices which reviewers praise for running "stock Android". Google themselves have switched between HTC and LG as manufacturers.

As a result the first upgraders to Android Nougat will be Nexus owners. Then it's up to the other manufacturers to send it out. Samsung are often pretty good just being a few months behind.

For the phone carriers upgrading and security patches are not that important. What they want to do is sell a new phone. They would rather you bought a product every couple of years than do software upgrades, unlock your phone and go to a sim only contract. For this reason Google like their unlocked phones and do their updates over wifi.

There is so much money in Apple that carriers dont delay an Apple update. Also Apple news quickly gets to Apple owners. Not so much for Android. IT Pros will be flashing roms, customising etc but this will by pass the great mass of purchasers. They will just stick with their 2013 copy of Android Kitkat (4.4) unless they get an onscreen prompt to update. If they go into a store they get offered a Samsung, HTC or Sony device.

On the eve of Android Nougat (7.0) we find 30% of Android users are still on version 4.4. If apps want to take advantage of 7.0 features at least 30% of the audience is excluded. The success of Android OS and it's lack of central control means many users are actually using old software versions and potentially subject to security vulnerabilities. Market dominance has it's price.

This is the same position that Microsoft found itself when it had 94% of the PC market. Microsoft developed a patch and update policy. Google hasn't and cant because of the diversity of Android.

So it's with some sense of irony that Microsoft's Windowsphone, with little market share, now running Windows 10 Mobile is being updated almost monthly using the same technique as the PC update strategy. Arguably this makes Windowsphone the most secure and most updated of any mobile OS and most suitable for non-IT Pros. Funny thing that.


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