Last week we talked about Google Fuchsia OS and why Google needs it to further expands Google’s hardware ambition. Today we’ll be talking about Google’s another initiative called Project Treble. In short, Project Treble is Google’s initiative to provide updates of Android OS via the Play Store or over-the-air with out the need for OEM or Carrier inputs.
You’d think that something that should be easy to do but as Android OS the way it is now, well it’s not that easy. Before we go into detail of Project Treble let’s quickly go first to why Google has to do this.
Back when Google announced Android, they formed the Open Handset Alliance. Basically any companies that are in this alliance must adhere to some rules to ensure innovation within the Android ecosystem. These companies also pledged to provide 18 months of software support to their phones and this was supposed to be great. You buy Android phone from either Samsung, HTC, LG and you had the assurance that you get the next version of Android when it comes out.
But it turns out most companies weren’t providing the Android updates and add to that carriers had a say on when or if they provide the updates.
So, what’s their motivation or excuse for OEM’s or Wireless carrier? They make money on new handsets that are sold so it’s in their interest to try to sell you a new phone providing you with updates will only prolong the life of that phone you are using when you could be buying a new phone instead. Plus providing updates take away their resources like time and money to make sure that their features are compatible. This could take months for rewrites and compatibility testing.
Wireless carriers have many SKU’s, they will argue that updates needs to be vetted and rigorously tested to ensure that it doesn’t break on their network or customer phone because of these middlemen Androids’s new feature never make it to the customers handset.
This contributes to the fragmentation problem that Google have to deal with. For instance; when Apple release a new update people can get it on their iPhone or iPad the same day.
As you can see in the above chart, in a matter of two months iOS would see an adoption rate of 60% whereas, Android on the other hand would barely hit 12% in 7 months.
Google tried to encourage alliance members to provide software updates to their phone but this obviously didn’t work. So, what’s now left for Google is to cut the OEM and carriers out of the update process while at the same time making sure that any updates won’t break the phone or disrupt the Carrier’s network. This is where Project Treble comes in, Project Treble is Google solution to getting updates out to the customers that are using Android devices but the underlining theme here is to fix Android major fragmentation issue.