So the oldest 2007 iPhone 2G can easily download and run (most of) iPhone OS 3.1 while the current 2009 crop of HTC Dream and Magic devices on Rogers will officially be stuck on Android 1.5? According to sibling site AndroidCentral.com:
"HTC is not currently planning any Android 1.6 upgrades for Rogers Dream or Magic. Android 1.6 was only made available for “Google”-branded devices such as the G1. It is not available for HTC-branded products such as the Dream or Magic, which use Android 1.5. We believe that Android 1.5 is a stable and reliable software platform that delivers a terrific user experience."
Google explains this is a consequence of being
not evil "open", again via AndroidCentral.com:
When we open source our code we use standard, open Apache 2.0 licensing, which means we don't control the code. Others can take our open source code, modify it, close it up and ship it as their own. Android is a classic example of this, as several OEMs have already taken the code and done great things with it. There are risks to this approach, however, as the software can fragment into different branches which don't work well together (remember how Unix for workstations devolved into various flavors — Apollo, Sun, HP, etc.). This is something we are working hard to avoid with Android.
Working well together isn't the problem. Rogers, HTC, and Google abandoning an entire country full of early adopters -- the very users that help drive a platform -- is the problem. How many Dream and Magic owners, likely geeks who form the loving core of Google and Android's user base, will be happy to here they're "stable* with 1.5 and don't need and won't be getting 1.6 (and who knows about 2.x?) while seeing the Motorola Droid and upcoming Hero updates, never mind Nexus One, splashed all over their interwebs.
There are pros and cons to both the integrated hardware/software/benevolent dictatorship model of Apple and the licensed hardware/software/wild west model of Google, to be sure. Buyers should beware of Apple control over the App Store and ecosystem, but they should also beware of hardware fracture from the hands-off overlords.
Sure, one day Apple will kill backwards compatibility as well, iPhone 2G first, then subsequent devices over time. If you'd bought an iPhone 3G earlier this year, however, how happy would you be if Apple and Rogers announced 2.0 was "stable" and that you don't need and won't be getting iPhone 2.x? 3.0? Would you be enjoying all the iPhone 3GS cut and paste and video commercials then? How happy would you were told your brand new iPhone 3GS wouldn't be getting 4.0 next year?