For most Android smartphone users, the wait for an update for the next level of OS can be an eternal, and an agonising, one. Google might regularly showcase the next ‘sweetly-named’ Android OS at each of its I/O conferences and Nexus launches, but for most real-time users, a taste of the new Android flavour, be it a Marshmallow or a Lollipop, remains a dream.
Now a new study by CREO, a Bangalore-based Consumer Technology Company, along in Cyber Media Research (CMR) found that in India a mere 38 per cent of Android users have updated their OS, with lack of update process awareness the biggest detriment.
More so, nearly 72 per cent of Android Phone buyers in India did not even get the latest Android OS, or its features at the time of purchase in 2015. The survey looked at over 400 Smartphone users across three major cities of Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore. The sample was spread across various brands, OS variants and price brackets to have a fair representation of the universe.
Interestingly the numbers also showed that 64 per cent of the Android smartphones sold in the market in 2015 were shipped with 4.4 Kitkat OS, which is a 3 year older version. Google’s own latest numbers showed that the latest Marshmallow 6.0 OS is only on 2.3 percent devices, while Lollipop has a total share of 36.1 percent in March. KitKat, which is now 3 years old, still has a 34 per cent share.
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The reason that updates take forever to roll out, especially in India, is the lack of software resources or in-house team on part of Indian players who can work on the new OS, points out CREO CEO’s Sai Srinivas.
“Look, Apple is capable in building its own hardware and software. They have so much control over their OS, and the update system is designed in a good way that users welcome the update. With Android, Google itself takes some time to test out the new OS. Then the individual OEM has to test it out as well. These guys then have to design their drivers, their UIs according to the new OS. And most Indian smartphone players don’t have the resources to push out these updates,” he tells Indianexpress.com. The rigorous testing means that updates often delayed.
But the research also showed that Android users themselves are not receptive to updating their phones. Numbers showed that 62 per cent of the users surveyed never updated their OS, potentially indicating lack of awareness or large size of updates.
According to Srinivas, user perception is also to be blamed here. “They might ask their friends who might say the phone will become slow if you go for the update. There’s an expectation mismatch problem. I personally feel that the update has to come with strong value proposition. Indian users don’t care for fancy new UI. They need to know what the update will bring to their smartphone. Will it help save me data, might be just one question for some users,” he says.
He feels that current Android problem of lack of updates can only be solved if OEMs make updates a regular feature.
The study also shows that updates are heavily prioritised for phones in the premium segment (greater than Rs 20,000) in India. According to Srinivas, the reason for that is these smartphone users are the opinion drivers, the devices themselves drive profits margins for OEMs, making them a segment they want to take care of. “The general thumb rule appears to be with most premium phones is you are assured at least one update to the next OS. If you do the math, that works out two years for your smartphone to remain update,” he says.
The lack of updates isn’t just about missing out on a new feature. From a security perspective, it’s bad for users as well. “Indians, I would say are the least security conscious people, most people don’t care about it anyway, even though this lack of updates does come with risks,” he says.