Today will talk about Google’s recent update for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, with a commitment to provide updates for up to 7 years. So why don’t other companies do the same? The main reason is not technical; it’s more about business. Now, let’s read this article to make it easier for you to compare.

Comparing Android Update Commitments Across Manufacturers

So, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are promised updates for 7 years, right? This is the longest update period in the current Android world. Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo, and others mostly committed to providing updates for four Android versions, for roughly 4 years. Additionally, they provide security updates for around 5 years. Now, let’s take a look at the Apple world. As of now, iOS 17 is still running on the iPhone XR, which was released in 2018. So, the maximum update time in the current Android world is 5-7 years. Of course, excluding Apple, other manufacturers like Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo follow a similar update schedule. Most flagship phones receive long-term support, while mid-range devices are supported for a bit less time. Some cheap devices receive minimal updates.

Google Pixel 8 Series - Updates Android For 7 Years, Why Don't Other Companies Do That?

The Evolution of Android Updates: Project Treble’s Impact

Now, let’s delve deeper into updating to new Android versions. In fact, the technical aspect is no longer a significant hurdle. Google has addressed this issue quite efficiently. Do you remember back in 2018 when Android P was introduced, it came with a significant improvement called Project Treble? The main purpose of this project was to separate the framework of Android from the vendor implementation, which you can think of as hardware drivers provided by chip manufacturers like Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Samsung (in the past). Previously, the vendor implementation was tightly integrated with the Android framework.

So, whenever a new Android update was released, chip manufacturers had to create new drivers for the new Android version. Then, they provided these drivers to device manufacturers, who then had to adapt them, perform interface customizations, and sometimes undergo additional testing, especially in markets with carrier subsidies. This entire process could take up to a year or more for non-flagship devices. That’s why, until 2018, Android updates were often slow and painful. However, since Android P and Project Treble, the situation has improved significantly.

Streamlined Android Updates: The Role of Project Treble

From now on, Android can update on its own without relying on chip manufacturers. Android simply updates while keeping the vendor implementation unchanged. This means that manufacturers no longer need to wait for new drivers every time a new Android version is released. Of course, chip manufacturers can still provide updates if necessary, but Android can function without them. Thanks to Project Treble, many non-Pixel devices could immediately experience Android beta versions when Android P was released. Previously, only Pixel or Nexus owners could do that. In summary, after 2018 particularly at this point in time, the process of updating to a new Android version is no longer a significant technical challenge. Manufacturers may choose to optimize their devices for new features, but the technical aspect is not a major hurdle.

Google Pixel 8 Series - Updates Android For 7 Years, Why Don't Other Companies Do That?

Balancing Profit and Support: The Business of Android Updates

However, the critical factor here is business-related. All companies, including Google, are in the business of making a profit. To succeed in business, they need to maximize their profits within the constraints they face, whether those are imposed by individuals, organizations, or corporations. When a company decides to support a new Android version for a device it has already released, it incurs costs in terms of time, human resources, and money. Google has a limited number of Pixel devices released each year. They may also release a Pixel Watch, but compared to Samsung and Xiaomi, they have a relatively small market share.

Google Pixel 8 Series - Updates Android For 7 Years, Why Don't Other Companies Do That?

Therefore, they cannot afford to support as many devices as their competitors. If they decide to support a new Android version for a particular device or device line, they must allocate resources, and all of this costs money. So, when you see companies providing updates for their popular or flagship devices, it’s because they’ve made the business decision that it’s worth the investment. Supporting budget devices for an extended period is even more challenging, especially in markets where carrier subsidies are involved. Passing through carrier testing and negotiations adds more complexity and time to the process.

Google Pixel 8 Series - Updates Android For 7 Years, Why Don't Other Companies Do That?

The Sustainability of Google’s 7-Year Update Pledge

Let’s talk about the 7-year update commitment for Google Pixel 8. While it’s a commendable initiative, there is a legitimate concern raised by MKBHD: Can Google uphold this promise? Google has a history of discontinuing projects and services, which usually come with corresponding compensation. But can they maintain a 7-year update cycle for Pixel 8, let alone for Pixel 9 or Pixel 10? It’s highly unlikely, given the available resources and the smaller market share compared to Samsung and Xiaomi.

So, while the 7-year update commitment for the Pixel 8 is a nice gesture, it may not be entirely necessary. Four years is a reasonable update period, and with the rapid advancement in smartphone technology, most users are likely to upgrade to a new device within that time frame. Having a 7-year commitment may be overkill, and only time will tell if Google can deliver on this promise. However, it’s a positive step towards longer-term support for Android devices.

Final verdict

In conclusion, the technical challenges related to Android updates have significantly reduced, and the main hurdle now is the business aspect. Manufacturers need to make decisions based on their resources and market conditions. Google’s 7-year update commitment for the Pixel 8 Series is a bold move, but it may not be entirely necessary, given the rapid pace of smartphone advancements. Nonetheless, it’s a positive step towards longer support for Android devices.

Google Pixel 8 Series - Updates Android For 7 Years, Why Don't Other Companies Do That?

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