Google May Shame Manufactures and Carriers to Update Devices

One of the biggest challenges facing Android as a platform but mobile devices in general is security.  For their part, Google has been working hard to get security updates out to devices on a monthly basis.  The problem, however, is not Nexus devices.  It is the countless other manufactures and carriers out there who are painfully slow or simply refuse to update devices with the latest security updates in a timely manner.  It leaves consumers vulnerable unnecessarily.  It would seem that Google has had enough and may be about to use a tactic to get manufactures and carriers to update devices.

Public shaming.

It has long been rumored that Google keeps an internal list of manufactures and carriers that are good and not-so-good at getting updates out to their customers.  This list, to this point and

Android Marshmallow
Android Marshmallow

assuming it exists, has never been made public.  That could be changing.  Rumors are suggesting that the company is about to make a list of manufactures and stack rank them for public consumption on who is getting updates out and in a timely manner.  The more timely they are, the more Google praises them publicly.  It is passive aggressive, no doubt.  But it could get the point across to the manufactures and carriers by hitting them where it hurts:  Their pockets.

If you as a consumer are looking at Device ABC on Carrier XYZ and you see that one or both of them are slow at getting updates out on their devices, you may decide to go with Device 123 on Carrier 789.  It will put pressure on both the manufactures and carriers to get updates out and to get them out in a timely fashion.

Such a public shaming doesn’t come without risks.  The manufactures and carriers could stage many revolts by forking their own version of Android so they don’t have to play the rules or carriers could chose not to carry a particular device.  Both tactics however have financial impacts to both so it makes it pretty remote… but possible nevertheless.

Further, this type of tactic doesn’t do anything to help Google reign in the fragmentation and forking struggle it has with Android.  Unless Google 100% takes over all Android images for every device, that will remain a problem.  Don’t hold your breath on that one.

As for me, I fully support this idea.  There is absolutely no reason for a manufacture or carrier to delay a security update for months for, in their words, “compatibility testing”.  A patch to Android to fix a security hole should never impact the functionality of a device unless the manufacture or carrier is exploiting that security issue.  That is a whole other issue for Google if that is the case.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.  Do you think this will work?  Why or why not?