Perhaps the most striking turnabout in the Android space is Sony. Outside they have a reputation for being proprietary, crappy software, quick on the legal guns etc. Within the Android space they are exemplary. XDA love them, and Sony keeps stepping up with specs and software releases.
Imagine you buy a computer from DELL with an nvidia card. And it came pre-installed with linux or windows. whatever version of those.
And you can't upgrade to the next kernel or UI, because nvidia won't release the drivers for that board. You have to wait until DELL asks nvidia for a binary blob driver for the new kernel, and then release it as a new linux update that will touch all the software you have.
This is exactly what happens on android.
My old phone is still on 2.3 simply because I can't drive the display and camera and radio on any other version. damn binary blobs. people have used 4.2 on this phone with a convoluted chain of translators for the 2.3 interfaces those binary drivers expect to the recent ones... but it is extremely buggy and messy (wrong memory writes all over the place)
So, the manufacturer's fault here is just not dealing with their providers to grantee drivers update, but ultimately, all of the current manufacturers are crappy in that aspect. you are just choosing one that provides you two versions, which is still dumb. less dumb than restricting yourself to one version, but still not the best way to go.
And it is not like they are defending any super secret information. It is just knee jerk reaction from some lawyers or some sales people trying to make the same margin twice.
...but everyone keep upgrading phones every year, so i think it is fine for everyone and the only sucker is me.
You will often see this with someone coming into a new space. HTC used to be like this, very consumer friendly, then when they start to do well they change and become assholes.
Given how much many people depend on their phones and how much information they usually have on them, I think security is pretty important.
That's why I got a Nexus 5; I'm confident I'll continue to see updates for some time.
Google really needs to include in their play store agreement some kind of requirement to ship critical security updates within a defined period of time. Yes, that's going to hurt - the maintenance burden of shipping an Android phone is going to rise dramatically if you inherit a burden of 5 years of updates. But then, critical security updates should be extremely incremental updates that rarely involve any functional changes to the user.
I'm not sure how the Android ecosystem is sustainable without something like this. At some point there will be an Android security apocalypse: an exploit that can't be fixed without a kernel update that affects hundreds of millions of legacy phones that have been abandoned by their makers.
What did happen about a year ago is google moved some of the communication framework stuff from android proper, and rolled it into 'google play services' so that it can be updated independently of the version of android on your phone.
As a result, apps like hangouts, plus, maps, the dialer and others which rely on those frameworks can be updated to use the newest version of the framework without worrying about the whether your population of phones have been updated to android x.y, any phone that has the play store installed and updated should be running a recent version of play services.
Google has to deal with a million different devices that are the same age as the iPhone 4, and their only "blessed" one, the GNex, doesn't exactly represent a large portion of their market... so they can't code up special tweaks and hacks for the OS to make it play nice on those the way Apple can do with the iPhone 4.
Until the break-neck pace of mobile development slows down or Google gets real traction with a Nexus phone, I don't expect this to change.
If 2 years of OS-level upgrades isn't enough, then Android isn't for you.
OEMs and network operators are just playing the same music they used to play with their proprietary mobile OSs.
Apple managed to work around that, but I doubt any other will be able to.
Pretty much impossible to predict. The safest bet is to either buy a Nexus phone (Nexus 4, 5, etc.) or maybe the GPE of a phone (S3, One, Moto X). Google stopped supporting the Galaxy Nexus so people were a bit miffed about that.
The good thing with Android is that even if your manufacturer/carrier decides to stop supporting your phone, you still have the opportunity to flash an updated ROM via third-party developers. Granted the performance probably won't be the best but at least you still have the option as opposed to iOS.
Unfortunately it only has like 384 MB of RAM or something like that, so many apps are problematic on it (e.g. I've had problems with the mobile versions of Firefox and Chrome, which need at least 512 MB). I do understand why Samsung stopped supporting it after Android 2.3 though. The phone's specs just can't keep up. I can say the same thing about an iPhone 3GS that I've got lying around.
Now I have a Nexus 4 and I can say that the best Android to get is always the latest Nexus - good hardware specs at a good price and it's the reference. Even if Google stops supporting it, heck, if CyanogenMod still supports the first-gen Galaxy S, then you can bet that it will work on a reference Nexus phone for a long time.
It has something to do with the screen latency and bunch of other factors.
I've been using android for a while now but with the need for everyone to have their own UI on android and the lack of carrier updates I think if I can't get a Nexus phone for my next phone (would be a carrier issue) then I would probably go back to iOS.
They lost me there.
The thing to understand about HTC is that from a strategic perspective, they're trying to stand over a rift that only gets wider every month. On the one side, they can't afford to develop an operating system, runtime, and ecosystem on their own. On one other side, they need to somehow "add value" to the Android experience, either through software (i.e. "extras" or "rethinks") or through hardware (in which they have plenty of competition) or, at best, finding overlooked combinations of the two that they can provide (e.g. a power button that's also an IR remote for your TV.)
They don't have a truly stable platform on which to add these improvements. In many cases the platform will beat them to whatever it is they want to add, and they won't have anything "new" to promote as their own.
As (or if) Android matures gets closer to the point where each new version matters less than the last, then they'll eventually have something like a stable platform to further focus their efforts on making the smartphone they want to make. It all depends on how much their users care about new Android.
I don't have any armchair advice this decision, but it's interesting to consider the trade-offs they're making.
Disclosure: I used to work for HTC.
Android will never get to that point. Technology, hardware as well as tastes and expectations change, and Android will always need to stay current. Some releases will be small, others will have huge rewrites, or additions.
Although by "people" I mean "tech-savvy people attuned to the existence and importance of OEM upgrade support"
If current momentum is any guide, Sony may be good in the future. But that's just conjecture and wishful thinking because I am soooo buying an Xperia Z1 Compact.