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Google to snatch control of Android updates from mobe makers – analyst

Chocolate Factory fed up with tardy hardware giants

Google is on the verge of a takeover that will change the way Android development and updates are handled.

This according to Richard Windsor, an analyst with Edison Investment Research, who believes the Mountain View ad giant is tiring of slow updates and will soon take control of firmware updates away from hardware vendors.

Windsor said that the slow uptake of Android Marshmallow is getting in the way of Google's new product rollouts, such as Now on Tap. Seeking to improve uptake and use of its products, Windsor believes Google will assume responsibility for releasing firmware updates, a task currently left to handset makers and mobile carriers.

"Google will end up taking complete control of Android by moving the entire OS into its services layer known as Google Mobile Services (GMS). This is the only way that Google can end the endemic fragmentation that continues to plague its devices as well as take back control of software distribution," Windsor said.

"The net result is that a Google device will become much like an iOS or a Windows 10 device with absolutely no options for handset makers to make any changes."

Windsor notes that despite coming out around the same time as Apple's iOS 9 update, Marshmallow currently runs on just 1.2 per cent of Android devices, according to Edison. The new iOS, meanwhile, is installed on 87 per cent of Apple devices, thanks to a tightly-controlled ecosystem that Apple lords over its mobile lineup.

Without the ability to get the latest version of the OS out to Android hardware, Google will be unable to release its new software and services. Windsor believes that, with this in mind, the Chocolate Factory will opt to take over Android and make sure handsets and tablets are able to use its new software releases.

"We suspect that this could also go hand-in-hand with Google becoming far more prescriptive in terms of hardware to ensure that its software runs properly," said the analyst.

"While this would be good for Google in terms of improving its user experience and its ability to monetise, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of the long-suffering handset makers, who have already been reduced to virtual commodities with only Samsung being able to earn more than 2-4 per cent margins on a sustainable basis."

Google has already shown some signs of tightening its grip on Android. Earlier this month it took a swipe at rooted devices with a release of Google Pay designed to work only on locked handsets. ®

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