Next version of Android – aka Jelly Bean – coming sooner than you think

Android 5 is rumored for Q3. Just as ICS finally lands on devices by Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others -- boom! -- the upgrade wait begins anew. Oh, the irony.

Google Android news
Jelly Bean: It's an ICS upgrade two months too late And isn't it ironic... don't you think
Google Android news
Jelly Bean: It's an ICS upgrade two months too late. And isn't it ironic... don't you think?

Haven’t got Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) on your RAZR Maxx yet? Don’t worry, in a matter of months you may be able to leapfrog it and go straight to Jelly Bean (Android 5).

I had to chuckle when I read that Google is rumored to be planning to release the next major rev of its mobile OS in Q3. Oh, the irony (or is it just a bummer? I don’t know- Ask Alanis). Just as ICS finally lands on devices by Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others — boom! — the upgrade wait begins anew. According to CNET’s Blake Robinson, “the timing would coincide approximately with Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, which is held at the end of June.” Sounds reasonable to me, except for the fact that’s it completely unreasonable.

Look, I know you know I’m a huge Android when it comes to smartphones. I don’t do iPhone. But Google ought to shore this thing up.

Say you, say me: Android is a beast.

Too many variations. Too many devices. Too many launches.

When you look at the paltry 1.6% user base, you’re not exactly burning the midnight oil to develop that killer new app for ICS.

Here’s an idea for the Android/JB marketing team: work with manufacturers and stage a coordinated, consumer-ready launch. I hate to say it, but Apple kills Google in this regard. After JB is announced, we should be able to get an OTA upgrade right then and there, or within a few weeks. That would be reasonable, no? With ICS, it’s been a real mess. Remember back in November 2011? That’s when Google launched ICS. That’s almost 5 months ago. And there’s basically one phone that you can buy today that runs the latest and greatest: Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus (of course, go ahead and root your S II and join the party!). Consistency with the release, and confidence in knowing lots of users will own a device running it, will build trust with developers. When you look at the paltry 1.6% user base, you’re not exactly burning the midnight oil to develop that killer new app for ICS.

The good news is Google has an opportunity to get it right this time. With Google+ we see a company not afraid to try, try again. Wave and Buzz were, well… buzzkills. But smart people work at Google. And smart people learn from their mistakes, right the ship, and get back at it.

Competing on price (from el cheapo $0 basics to $299 flagships), display size (talk about choice), and shelf space (every carrier, tonnes of manufacturers) has gotten Android this far. The market share results speak for themselves. RIM is retreating back to the enterprise. Microsoft will likely play the role of a strong #3 to Apple and Google. But to take it to the next level, to ensure that the growth continues, Google needs a coherent launch strategy that brings together all the critical pieces – developers, consumers, partners. Will it happen in 2012?

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  • The whole fractured user base is due to manufacturer and provider lock in, a situation that should have never happened in the first place. What we have right now is the equivalent say vehicles where my VW requires VW Gas, VW oil, VW tires, and can only run on black top roads.

    I don’t foresee HTC, Motorola, Samsung etc. giving up the custom skins until Google takes a stand and forces everyone to adopt a system where google pushes the OS updates. The problem is two fold though, part of the problem is the cell phone and wireless data system is a mess of 7?8? different bands and 5+ different technologies such as GSM, CDMA, Wimax(doa), and LTE. The other side is HTC etc. have made a few dozen different variants of phones and now have hundreds of phones in existence with thousands of different hardware configurations that would be almost impossible to support with Android as is due to drivers being baked into the kernel.

    The solutions would be long term but should be pushed for, one being a unified LTE push of 4-5 bands but all running the same hardware so one phone can run on any of the bands regardless of carrier. The carriers don’t want this tho as they don’t like to share toys.

    The second solution is a mandated requirement of unified architecture of hardware and drivers so a camera is a camera and a radio is a radio and always talk the same code regardless of manufacturer.

    • Great analogy. Agree with your two points: Can you imagine how complicated the testing grid looks like for the carriers and manufacturers?! 

      I can see resistance to unification though because it (a) reduces the ability for differentiation (and speeds and feeds alone are a tough sell), and (b) it will in turn result in price wars (though with Kindle Fire maybe that’s already happening).

      This is going to be a very interesting year with MS8 coming in the fall. And iPhone 5. I think Android will continue to thrive, somewhat in spite of its fragmented self. Cheers!

  • Anamika

    Unless you are targeting ICS specific API why the need to make ICS specific apps. Am i missing something here. And may i know the advantages of ICS specific API.