The long countdown to Android 2.1

Posted June 19, 2010 in mobile  |  4 Comments so far

For the last eight years, my mobile phone usage has followed a simple, predictable routine. Every year in June or July, I get tired of my current phone and pester Orange into giving me a new one.

This is triggered by two things. First, I’ll be bored with the old phone. By now it’ll seem annoying, clunky and over-familiar, even though a year ago it looked really exciting and futuristic a year ago.

Second, a new crop of phones will typically be catching my eye. These new phones and the life-transforming features they offer will seem – you guessed it – really exciting and futuristic.

This routine saw me move from one Windows Mobile phone to the next – I’d been a WinMo user since 2003′s  Motorola MPx200 proto-smartphone. But last year I took a more dramatic step, abandoning Windows Mobile in favour of my first Android device: the HTC Hero.

Out with the old, in with the newFast forward to today, and my HTC Hero is approaching its first birthday. As expected, I’m getting the urge to upgrade. But I’m trying to fight that urge. And helping me fight it has been the promise of Android 2.1.

In the modern world of smartphones, and especially Android, the idea is that you don’t have to upgrade your hardware to get a better experience. Occasionally, a new release of your OS or firmware will come out which pretty much gives you a new device.

I like that idea, because although I switch phones often it’s because of features rather than simple “gear-lust”. My main motivation behind each switch has been to ‘get more internet’ on my phone. This is why I was happy to put up with unsexy Windows Mobile devices for so long.

Orange SPV C600 - it's no iPhone

So when HTC announced that Android 2.1 would be released for the HTC Hero, I was pretty happy. My phone would get better and I wouldn’t have to pester Orange.

I was even happier when HTC announced that the update would be released in February. I didn’t mind when this was subsequently changed to March. When it slipped to April, I was philosophical: better late than ever, and in the old days stuff like this didn’t happen at all.

But other HTC Hero owners were far less patient. Lots of anger and annoyance erupted each time the release date slipped, and many pledged never to buy an HTC product – or even an Android phone – again. I thought this was all a bit over the top (after all, a HTC Hero running Android 1.5 isn’t exactly a hunk of junk). Then the April release date slipped, and this time it was worse: it slipped back to June! So I removed my blue UN peacekeeper helmet, took up a pitchfork, and joined the baying mob of enraged HTC Hero owners.

When June finally came round, I started checking the HTC and Orange websites frequently in the hope of seeing a freshly posted upgrade before anyone else. I became gradually more hostile towards my phone. And then disaster struck – the Yammer application, which had become essential for keeping in touch with my office, stopped working in Android 1.5!

At that point I stopped simply wanting Android 2.1 and started needing it. Since then I’ve been searching Google and checking websites every single day for the upgrade. In fact I’ve become something of an expert in the workings of the Android 2.1 rumour mill, which has been churning away like mad for the last couple of weeks.

So now we’re in the second half of June and the signs are encouraging – at least Android 2.1 has now appeared in America and east Asia. But in Europe there’s still nothing. Some people have triggered an update by shifting the phone’s calendar several months into the future. Sadly enough, I tried this, but it failed.

The HTC Hero is now in “endgame” as far as I’m concerned. If the Android 2.1 upgrade hits before June 30th, its tenure will be extended. But my yearly urge to switch is hard to suppress. If Android 2.1 doesn’t turn up, that Hero is headed for ebay and I’ll be in the market for yet another exciting and futuristic new device.

EDIT: Shortly after posting the above my impatience got the better of me, so I took Tristan’s advice and installed an unsupported Android 2.1 ROM. Android 1.5 is already a distant memory. In case you’re interested, I installed VillainROM 10.3 and these instructions came in very handy.


4 comments so far.  Post a comment

  1. Eddie
    June 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm [ Permalink

    Brendan – just get an iPhone4!! We’ll all be there in the next few years. ‘Geeks’ will finally adopt the Apple models.
    Discuss?

  2. June 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm [ Permalink

    I don’t think the momentum is on the side of the iOS platform. Just look at the most recent figures – Android is stealing market share from Apple rather than the other way around:
    http://blog.quantcast.com/quantcast/2010/06/may-mobile-os-share-north-america.html

    The iPhone was the “geek” phone of choice for a couple of years but not any more – Apple are chasing a different market now. The iPhone is to modern smartphones what AOL was to ISPs in the late 1990s: compelling and lucrative but ultimately limiting.

  3. Eddie
    June 19, 2010 at 9:59 pm [ Permalink

    Brendan,
    I don’t wholly agree with the conclusion reached in the article. Android is being introduced into a market with an established leader, the iPhone. It’s obvious that a new player in the game will gather a percentage of the market share whilst in the introduction phase. This growth undoubtedly change when it becomes established.
    However, with the introduction of the game changing iPhone4, the market shares will lean back towards Apple in the next month or two.

  4. June 20, 2010 at 11:17 am [ Permalink

    A new player will indeed gain market share, but at whose expense? The market leader, or weaker players whose products are looking tired and past it? It’s telling that Android market share is being drawn from iOS and not Windows Mobile or RIM.

    Looking beyond the next few months, it’ll be interesting to see what effect Windows Phone 7 has, if any. MS will push that platform hard but whose customers will they be targeting?

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