I’ve been a big fan of open source and the Linux platform since 1992 and was thrilled when Android initially launched leveraging the legacy of this platform. My family has Android phones and I acquired several Android tablets over the past few years, along with 3 iterations of the iPhone.
While we can get all our apps on both iOS and Android, I’m now convinced that my next tablet purchase should be an iPad. Initially, the variety of devices supporting Android was a huge plus for selection of an Android tablet. Now, however, this only serves to fragment the platform and highlight the contention between driving device sales and supporting end users for those vendors shipping Android tablets.
Because of the customizations against Android required to support customized hardware changes for each cellular provider – cell enabled products have a useful life of perhaps 18 months before the carriers stop issuing updates to focus on new products. This is the nature of the Android ecosystem where the carriers are responsible for software updates across a wide selection of hardware with varying design specifications. As a consequence, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 that is now stuck at Android 4.1 absent updates from T-Mobile which would likely have included performance and security fixes in later Android versions that would extend the useful life of the device by a year or two.
In contrast, Apple has pretty much nailed it. They do not allow the carriers to update iOS. This guarantees that Apple’s mobile platform will remain fresh, up-to-date, and secure as patches to the operating system and version updates are available and supported on older devices. The device support is much simpler and more reliable without involving the carriers. I have not had issues with updates on any of my iPhones having used an iPhone 4 for several years before rolling into an iPhone 5s and then upgrading to 6 just to get the NFC hardware support.
Considering the vastly improved design and hardware in tablets today, the expected lifetime for these devices should really be several years. It appears to me that Apple is the only real choice for enterprises providing tablets to their employees if the expected device lifespan is more than 2 years in light of the history around Android updates and the absence of any driving changes in the ecosystem around the Android OS updates with the cellular carriers.