Google’s Jean-Baptiste Queru Talks Android Updates, Direct Phone Sales On Google+

Google’s own Jean-Baptiste Queru threw up some thoughts on Google+ on Android updates and utilizing Google’s own channels to sell devices. Queru specifically touched on the lengthy process of updating from Android 3.2 to Android 4.0. Explaining that the large differences in framework between the two platforms lends to the often irritating delay in release. Queru goes on to say that updates from Gingerbread take even longer as a greater set of differences between Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich exist than there are between Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Queru also commented on what is arguably one of the more frustrating problems with delays — those requiring “operator approval.” Carriers control the testing and OTA process and while Google has influence in the update, ultimately it’s up to the carrier to send that update out. It’s equally frustrating for the Android community as conversations over Jelly Bean as we’re still looking at less than 3% of users on Ice Cream Sandwich.

From his comments we can extrapolate that delayed updates are now to be expected, that even minor updates, such as going from Android 4.0.3 to 4.0.4 can take a month or two. That’s just how things are with the continued use of custom skins, carrier and manufacturer testing.

“The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven’t received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals. I’m very glad that Google is back in the business of selling phones directly without any middlemen to interfere, and I’ll be even happier when I see that program expanded to more countries.”


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  • BahamasGeek242

    So its pretty much an unlocked Nexus if you want your updates on time if not pick what ever phone you like and don’t complain its the carrier’s fault. 

    • redman12

      You are right on point.

    • It KINDA also is Google’s fault. They make a choice to not support CDMA as much as GSM, so there really are no true Pure Google Stock phones out there on Verizon or Sprint. As for the GSM side, carriers definitely have more of their fingers in the mix than need be. T-Mobile, the Android launch partner included… Even so, having a completely pure stock phone on a carrier like AT&T and T-Mobile doesnt prevent some issues arising. Now when I say its kinda Google’s fault, this is what I mean… Google can make a choice to ask the carriers of their testing and amend that version of Android for the carrier, and send out a version thats pre-approved. Carriers can also have developers and testers of the public run the tests and feedback for them, so more people have the updates and can report feedback faster, thus the update gets amended and pushed out faster. Think of how Apple does it with iOS, by seeding it to developers. If carriers and Google did that, imagine we would have many more phones running ICS.

      • BahamasGeek242

        I think you made a lot good points, Google could have put its foot down from day one with the HTC G1, it was easier back them they pushed out updates to that thing constantly but it was the only Android device period at the time. Now we have probably close to hundred different android devices between the 4 major carriers over the bast 3 years so I understand the carriers standpoint that it would be near impossible to test updates in an efficient manner and lets not forget that some OEM’s don’t even support a device for more than year. I still think that there is a small percentage of people who care about the updates and that is why the carriers are not that worried about it because the masses don’t really know the difference and especially if its not stock.

      • carcomptoy

        Can you blame Google for not wasting any of their resources on CDMA when literally everyone is migrating to LTE, whether from HSPA+, EV-DO, and WiMAX?  The future is LTE, which is still based on GSM, so of course they’re going to focus on the more popular (and therefore more marketable) GSM device.  Besides, while there is a culture and market for unlocked GSM phones, there never really developed one for CDMA.

      • Vim

        Note that Apple didn’t sell CDMA iPhones either until it signed agreements with Verizon and Sprint. 

        CDMA isn’t like GSM.  For GSM, your SIM card authorizes you to be on the carrier’s network.  You can slap that card into any GSM phone you want, even one you bought directly from Google, and get Voice service at a minimum.  So Google can sell phones that work with AT&T despite having no agreement with AT&T.  There is no such option with a CDMA carrier.  Verizon and Sprint have complete control over whether or not a specific phone may access their network.  So even if Google attempted to produce and sell a CDMA phone unlocked, it still wouldn’t work on Verizon unless Verizon specifically authorized that phone by adding its ESN to their system.  Thus you don’t have a market for unlocked CDMA phones the way you do for unlocked GSM phones. 


    • rwc1792

      That’s what carriers should say to their customers, and most people probably would be find with that.  Those that want updates would get the “google” phone, assuming all carriers would agree to offer it, likely at a higher expense than other phone, and those are happy with a phone “As-is” could get the carrier supported device. It would probably work if the devices and software had all the bugs worked out prerelease, but I think we know that not to be the case.  The reality probably is such that phones get released when they are really in the beta phase, a la Microsoft, and the customer suffers.  The carriers should do more to make good when they sell a POS device.  Apple knows this isn’t the way to approach this, that’s why they sell more iPhones

    • Wilma Flintstone

      And it took this for people to finally start realizing this.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, don’t ever buy a smartphone for what it may be able to do in the future, buy it for how it is Out of the Box.  Even Google Nexus devices aren’t guaranteed updates.  Nexus One for example. 

      • ckeeegan

        As well as the Nexus S users having to wait 5 months to get ICS. If Google can’t be troubled to update their one device…

        • Vim

          Oh they took the trouble alright, it was just a hell of a lot of work to accomplish.  You’re trivializing something that you really don’t understand.

  • FatFredJones

    Although I refuse to use it as-is, I’m fairly certain that there is some popular phone out there who’s updates aren’t subjected to carrier approval (or bloatware). I

    • MarcusDW


    • Spanky

      Yes, THAT phone, as well as the unbranded Galaxy Nexus.

  • Amazed in Awe

    “Google’s own Jean-Baptiste Queru threw up some thoughts on Google+” WOW, he threw up, eh? LOL! I had a visual! =D

  • Lani

    I guess the main factor for carriers is having the proper training support tools to assist customers. If developers provided emulators online that had the exact screens with exact buttons for each mobile having different bottom buttons, I bet it would cut out some frustration for delay in ota updates to end users.

    Carriers found not to release ota updates because some are too buggy and not worth all the headaches. Fix one problem and created 5 new problems. My mt4g never received one of the many ota updates that ive read about.

  • stevejobbed

    Its tough when they have to leave it up to the carriers to get these updates out. There really is no incentive for any carrier to push resources into getting an OTA out the door as quick as possible. The phone is already paid for and the contract has been signed. Plus the majority of users don’t know or care what version of Android they have or are capable of having and the ones that place a priority on it most likely rooted their phones and have what they need anyway. 

    • MarcusDW

      Wrong place. Deleted.

  • Yvrcouve

    Carriers shouldn’t be required to roll out any updates other than to fix the bugs on the current release.  To ask for more than this is unreasonable.

    • MarcusDW

      Are you referring to OTA updates or or updates period?

      • Yvrcouve

        I mean if your phone has bugs with the released version of Android, then your carrier should provide the fix.  The carrier should not be expected to roll out the latest version of android for every phone just to appease the few Tech fanboys that always want the latest/greatest. 

        Would I love ICS….sure….but if I want it bad enough I can buy a new device.  Bottom line, my wife is still sporting a MT4G with Android 2.3.4.  And you know what??? She can use all Android’s apps no problem.

        • MarcusDW

          The carriers don’t actually build the software updates, the manufacturers do and then the carriers test and approve them and then roll it out to our phones.  Example: HTC has sent T-Mobile the Sensation update but T-Mobile sent it back because it wasn’t good enough.  

        • Yvrcouve

          Exactly my point.  Do you think T-mobile tested the software update at no expense?  If it’s an update to correct issues, that is one thing.  If it’s an update to the latest platform…..Tmobile should not be expected to offer. 

        • MarcusDW

          I’m sure there is a cost to all that testing and stuff but you know what? that’s just part of being competitive and attractive as a company.  

          You have to spend money to make money and if T-Mobile chose to not update devices at all anymore then I’m gone.  Even non tech geeks like my fiance would be gone because I wouldn’t let her buy a T-Mobile phone knowing it won’t get updated at all.  

          What do you think would happen if Sprint said that they will be getting the iPhone BUT it will be never receive a single update?

        • Spanky

          Are you serious, or just trolling? If the carriers shouldn’t be required to roll out software updates, then they should get their grimy paws out of the entire update process and leave it to Google/OEMs.

    • Skozsert

      Early termination fees should end the second the phone is no longer supported with major updates. To ask for more than this is unreasonable.

  • MarcusDW

    At this point in time with our phones being so powerful, we should almost be guaranteed 2 major updates if the phone is actually capable.  2 years, 2 updates.

    If my device is “not capable” of the update in full then we should always have a 2nd option like what HTC did to the Sensation.  Samsung had better be working on that “value pack” update for the GS1 and the carriers had better be willing to give it to us.

    I hate already thinking that my GS2 won’t get Jellybean at all but I know that’s the price I pay for not buying an authentic Google phone.

    • Targ

      You bought a fake Google phone? Where do they sell knock-offs? How much?

      • Dann

        I’m sure china has plenty knock offs.

        • Regbs

          If it’s not a Nexus phone, it’s knock-off Android that will not have Google’s oversite. Thus crap skins and bloatware to fragment updates.

    • Vim

      It’s looking like Jelly Bean will be another tablet-centric release like Honeycomb.  So smartphones may end up skipping it.

  • Bratty

    If you embrace open source, you embrace some of its “issues”. This is not a critique of Android but just an observation. 

  • Spanky

    After purchasing the Galaxy Nexus, I can’t see myself owning a non-Nexus or a carrier-branded device (this includes Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus) ever again, all for the exact reasons stated by JBQ.

  • rwc1792

    This has me leaning towards getting the galaxy nexus:

    Jean-Baptiste QueruYesterday 9:42 AM (edited)+Nexus S is still a great phone today. It actually gives me good hope
    that the insane pace of hardware updates will slow down a bit: Nexus S
    hardware is soon gonna be 2 years old (it’s essentially the same as
    Galaxy S) and can still comfortably run the latest OS.There’s no
    fundamental need any more to buy the latest and greatest hardware every
    6 months to get the latest OS, you just need a device that receives

  • Philyew

    “The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven’t received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals.” 
    – Everyone seems more than happy to go along with this assessment and condemnation of the carriers, forgetting one crucial factor: that it is the carriers’ support functions that have to pick up the pieces after an update goes wrong. 

    While they are acting as Tier 1/2 support for the devices, they have every right to ensure that an update does not cause performance issues for their customers, logistical nightmares for their support personnel and ongoing contractual bushfires when they are held accountable by their customers for the failure to perform.?

    • Farhan Ahmed

      Then a little bit more transparency would be nice to know why companies like HTC or Samsung would OK an Android update for a phone they made but the update gets sent back by the carrier.

      As far as performance is concerned, I would hope that manufacturers do that while testing the update in the first place and if they run into any performance issues on the network they would then reach out to the carrier. I mean, is the wireless chipset or radio or whatever on the Sensation 4g and that on the One X so vastly different that the ICS on One X has no performance issues but the Sensation needs till June to work?

      Is it really an issue of performance or is it more about delaying an update on purpose so that people who want the newer OS bite the bullet and buy a new phone? or is it just internal politics and bad management of the update process?

      I’m also confused why the carriers are needed for approval since the only thing they would be needed for is possible help with testing on the network. Everything else would essentially be up to the manufacturer.

      This is why more transparency would be nice on this entire process, because taking around 7 months to update from Gingerbread to ICS should be considered unacceptable IMO. It’s not a reasonable time frame to push out updates. I know the developers obviously have other projects they work on simultaneously, but still something should be done to speed things up.

      • Vim

        There were many, many modifications to the Android framework in ICS.  Lots of things needed to be rewritten in order to continue working on other devices.  And it’s not just the radios, the processors are different, the gpu’s are different, the cameras are different, the displays are different, etc… Even Google wasn’t able to push out a Nexus S update until last month. 

        Carriers don’t want to be just dumb pipes.  They like having control, and they’re not going to give it up, regardless of how much we’d prefer that they get out of our way. As Philyew has pointed out, their excuse is that they have to support the devices on their network, and it’s certainly true that the more fresh eyeballs that look at the prerelease software, the more likely bugs are going to get caught.  Now if they’d just refrain from loading up our phones with bloatware, there’d be several less unwanted programs that the update teams have to waste time on updating and troubleshooting. 

      • Philyew

        Can you please explain to me how delaying an OS update to promote the sales of a new device actually helps a carrier? I hear this argument over and over, but it makes no sense to me at all. 

        The primary business of a carrier is to sell network service. They use devices to aid that process. Most often their mechanism is to sell a subsidized device to which is attached a 24-month service contract. The next significant discount typically is not qualified until 22-24 months have elapsed.

        So when an OS update coincides with a new product launch part way through that cycle, the customer has to pay the full purchase price to obtain a new device and the carrier cannot extend the contract term for another 24-month period.

        When customers move to full-priced devices half way through the contract cycle the carrier loses a substantial part of the leverage they have over their customer. Why would they consciously strategize in that way against their own long term interests?

        Unless a carrier has strategically reduced its contract expectations to a one-and-done level, there can be no advantage in manipulating the relationship into a situation that reduces the likelihood of contract renewal.

        So, please, tell me what on earth would motivate a carrier to act that way?

        • Farhan Ahmed

          Carriers also sell phones and phone accessories to make money. They are constantly under pressure to find ways to make more money and this could just be one way to do so. I’ll take a stab at explaining …. remember this is just my opinion of course….

          I don’t have any numbers on this but I would think that most people pay full price for a new phone either from the carrier website ( or just go to the carrier store and buy it at full price if they want. Thus paying money to the carrier.

          The OS update on the other hand is free…. so if I am the kind of person who likes having the newest OS (I hope you agree that there are a lot of those around) then I would lose patience waiting several months for an OS update and just go out and pay ~ $600 for a new phone and sell mine on Ebay or Craigslist. Also remember the future update dates are not set in stone and can be changed like the Sensation’s update for April was pushed back, so that is another uncertainty to add to the equation.

          So why would a carrier be motivated? Money of course…. better to entice people to buy a new phone than give them free updates on a timely fashion.

          They can’t just stop the updates (remember the bad PR they had last year) so they’re just taking their sweet time or just long enough that the people who can’t wait will purchase a new phone. 

          The people who can wait will do so and still be tied to their contract while the people who can’t are still tied to their contract but shelled out more money to the carrier.

          Cha Ching!

          Thank you come again! :)

  • Guest

    As long as manufacturers use carriers as their beta testers, we all have to suffer from the long wait between Google releasing a new version of Android and our phones running that version. There is no such thing as bug-free software. Some manufacturers do better job than others testing their products before carriers get it.

  • Guest

    Considerng how much people love android and the open source state of mind… I’d like to welcome everyone to the world of Linux and suggest you try out Ubuntu or Linux Mint on your personal computers as well.. Life will never be the same again

  • UMA_Fan

    The thing is T-Mobile doesn’t profit when people buy phones full retail.  They aren’t in the business of selling phones, they are in the business of selling service.  The device you use makes no difference to their bottom line.

  • Tricky1124

    If you buy an android phone you should never expect an update. If one becomes available you hit the lottery. Congratulations.

    • I run a computer store, and I’ve been telling all my customers this exactly.

      “Android phones cannot be updated,” I say, “anyone who tells you otherwise is lying”

      • Vim

        My android phone has been updated.  Therefore your statement is logically false.  Finally, people who make false statements should be careful about accusing others of lying…

  • LanceMiller

    I will never again buy a phone that requires this much BS to get an update for. I will be looking closely at the new Nexus line & several others in order to evaluate their past performance in releasing
    updates in a timely manner. No more blind brand loyalty from me.

  • LanceMiller

    Also, Google should be ashamed at how they’ve allowed Android to get as fragmented as it has in such a short period of time. They’ve been taken advantage of & should make it priority number one to
    get control back. First thing they need to do is forbid all the skins, bloatware & firmware alterations.
    ICS, & future updates, doesn’t need anything as it already looks great.


    just as DROIDMAN replied  I can t believe that people can easily spy on anyone’s cell phone(spouse,children,employees) simply using  this website.have you seen this website before .

    (Copy The Link On mY Name)

  • Looks like more goodies come along for an unlocked device as usual.

  • us_1776

    Google needs to force the carriers out of the upgrade business altogether.

    All devices should be able to get their updates direct from Google.

    Can you imagine if there was ever a serious security update that needed to get out immediately?

    Only Google could accomplish this.