So recently, this happened: Google posts End-Of-Life time frames for Nexus devices. Of course, the vocal minority is in a rampage. Everyone is very quick to read the headline and automatically hit reply without actually reading the article to see what is actually going on. So, let us stop the quick judgement and really explore both what does End-Of-Life mean, and how it relates to the Nexus program.
What Does End-of-Life Mean?
Well, according to submissions in Wikipedia, they describe “End-of-Life” as the following:
“End-of-life” (EOL) is a term used with respect to a product supplied to customers, indicating that the product is in the end of its useful life (from the vendor’s point of view), and a vendor stops marketing, selling, or rework sustaining it. (The vendor may simply intend to limit or end support for the product.) ”
So, with that in mind, the concept of End-Of-Life is often used in the tech industry for many products you may not realize. Cisco, Microsoft, and yes, even Apple have End-Of-Life dates for many of their products. (Feel free to reference the Windows XP fiasco.) Generally speaking, this is done when a device, such as a router or switch, needs to be phased out and replaced, either to make way for a newer model or a shift in technology. This does not mean that the businesses need to upgrade their hardware, they also implement something called “End-Of-Support”. End-Of-Support is a period of time after EOL has been exceeded that a product will still receive stability updates or parts/service may be still obtained. Eventually, the cost of support those devices will outweigh the benefit of keeping them. At this point, they will only give “best-effort” service. (Otherwise known as, “eh… if we feel like it” service.)
Yeah, don’t care ’bout that, what about Nexus?
Well, directly from their site, (which you read because you’re an intelligent person) they clearly state: “No guaranteed Android version updates after”. Examining that statement, they’re saying, “Hey.. we’re not going say we are or aren’t, but don’t expect them.” This is what we can call setting a standard for your expectations as a consumer. The Nexus program, for some time now, has had this 18-month support timeframe though it was never really quantified until you see the date. However, where most people quit reading was the 3-years of security, bug-fixes and hardware support they offer. To put it to something relate-able, most computers come with a 90-day warranty and 1 year of tech-support. Windows even has dates set that while they’ll still support the product with critical updates, adding new features isn’t in their best interest.
But… Apple always gets the latest version of iOS, why doesn’t Nexus?
Easy, to quote Steve Balmer: “Developers… Developers, Developers, Developers Developers.” Well, really development in general. Apple has a closed ecosystem. Inside their sandbox, they give you all the details for application development and it is either their way or the information-super-highway. This leaves them with fewer and more standardize hardware models. There are 13 iPhones, 7 iPod touches,12 iPads, and a few other devices. Also, Apple’s software updates don’t always include the latest features either. While Google may only have 8 in the Nexus lineup, TheNextWeb has an article stating there are 18.796 distinct Android devices. Wow, that’s a lot to keep up to date. Remember though, Google isn’t really a hardware company, it’s a software and services company. Their product, isn’t necessarily the Nexus, it’s Android. This was more clearly defined back in the day when Nexus phones were more-or-less developer phones and reference devices for how “vanilla” Android should look. However, as time rolled on, so did Google. Hardware/software are usually developed hand-in-hand, it doesn’t make sense to revisit older devices every 6 months, especially when that phone didn’t have a large market share to begin with.
There’s a simple fix:
Stop whining. I do apologize for being blunt but we need to take a step back and look at the broad scope of things. We first complained about fragmentation in Android’s early days. OEMs we’re all over the place in Android versioning, there were few if any updates, and support was severely lacking. Now that Google has enforced rules for device certification and moved its proprietary services in a “walled garden” similar to Apple, we complain that it’s not open. The Nexus program has gone from a developer-tool to a fully fledged prime time consumer phone. Google is a company, companies need to make money. Their image is important and in order to keep up with the industry, it has to advance. If you’re concerned about the time frame of support, don’t buy last years model when this year’s has been out for 6 months. (Nexus 6’s are really cheap are great though, especially for the low-prices.) When you bought the phone, you thought it was the greatest thing and it did everything you want it do. Did that somehow change in the new version? Is it worth it to upgrade? Those are the questions you should ask yourself. You can certainly go buy a car, that is “new” but it be a model that’s well over a year old, the trade off is you’ll get a car for cheaper even though next year’s model might have a “killer” feature. Most of the time, you can wait, or if your budget doesn’t allow, just stay N-1 (meaning current revision, minus 1) for awhile. Or simply switch if it means that much to you. Remember, you’re in control of your money and mind, it’s up to you to make informed decisions.
Till next time….