Why it won't be Jelly Bean released this summer

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why it won't be Jelly Bean released this summer
It looks as though an article like this is going to have to become a yearly staple for us, because this is one rumor that seems to be stuck on a loop for some reason. DigiTimes has been relatively quiet recently, so it looks like the site needed to get some quick link baiting in today and has "predicted" that Google will release Android 5.0 Jelly Bean this summer. First of all, DigiTimes has a bit of a history with link baiting. Yes, the source can have some quality scoops when it comes to hardware and component suppliers in Asia, but it also doesn't seem to understand how to say no when presented with a wilder "prediction". 

DigiTimes is reporting based on information from its most common source, unnamed "Taiwan-based supply chain makers", which basically says that Google is planning to push forward the launch of Jelly Bean because "the adoption of Android 4.0 has fallen short of original expectations and Microsoft will launch Windows 8 in the third quarter of 2012". We'd like to tackle this rumor systematically because there are a lot of parts that need special attention while we call them bunk. 

Before we get into this, we wanted to review that this is not the first time we've heard a rumor like this. Last year in August, we heard a rumor that Google would be rushing the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich release in order to compete with the release of what ended up being the Apple iPhone 4S. That rumor was at least believable because of one major factor: Apple is a competitive threat to Google in the mobile space. It was also a bit more credible because the rumor came in August, which was just a couple months before the expected release of both products anyway. Even so, we called out the idea as a terrible one because of a few factors: rushing software also meant rushing hardware, competing releases doesn't necessarily mean competing hardware, and lastly because as we've said a number of times, Apple and Google are playing different games. Apple's primary focus is revenue, while Google's primary aim is market share. These same arguments can be translated to this new rumor, but with a bit of a spin on each. 

It won't be Jelly Bean

Back to the current rumor at hand, the first issue we need to take on is the idea that Android 4.0 adoption is somehow disappointing. Last year, the February numbers for Gingerbread's adoption rate was 0.8%, which was lower than Ice Cream Sandwich's 1.0% adoption rate, although Gingerbread was released a couple weeks later into the year than ICS. Still, we can essentially take that as about the same rate. We're sure that Google would have liked a faster update rate for the Android ecosystem, but there are still major roadblocks to updates as has been talked about recently. 

However, even if Google is upset that the Android update process hasn't gotten any faster, that doesn't translate to needing to push the next update faster. How would that help anything? The logic fails pretty hard right there. Apparently, the unnamed Taiwan-based supply chain makers think that Google's solution to what some call "fragmentation" is to not give manufacturers any time to update their devices to the newest Android version before releasing another new version. Even this annoying "prediction" has already started up plenty of stories that Google is going to fragment the Android platform more, and all of that silliness. Google has learned the value of the slow buildup and wouldn't create chaos in with manufacturers and developers by adding another major Android version to the mix. 

On top of that, the idea behind the prediction seems to be that Jelly Bean is going to be an update more targeted to Android tablets, in order to kickstart that market ahead of Windows 8 tablets. This logic ignores a few different pieces of information. First of all, a major goal of Android 4.0 was to unite Android tablets and phones under one OS version. If Jelly Bean were to target tablets, that would just reverse the trend of bringing all Android devices under the same OS. Secondly, Android tablets don't really need a kickstart. Sure, it's been a relatively slow roll for Google in that market, but in the past year since we've seen the release of the first Android tablets as well as Honeycomb, Android has taken over 35% of the tablet market. 

The last part of all of this is the idea that Google would rush out Jelly Bean in order to compete with Windows 8 tablets. This also falls apart under a bit of logic. Windows 8 may have buzz, some interesting features, and the support of some developers, but it is still a completely unproven system. We've already seen reports that suggest that Windows 8 tablets are going to be coming in between $599 and $899, which would put them in a price range that competes more with laptop sales than other tablets. The tablet market has developed a standard price between $399 and $599, with some cheaper options as well. Microsoft could be pricing itself out of the market, which means Google doesn't need to alter its plans. 

We've learned over time that an Android release doesn't translate into devices on the market. So, even if Google released Jelly Bean in the summer, it wouldn't start hitting devices until late in the year. It seems like the far smarter play to have the Ice Cream Sandwich tablets mature and fill up the market before the release of Windows 8. Devices in the market translate into direct competition for any new platforms coming on to the market. Having Ice Cream Sandwich tablets with a continually increasing selection of tablet apps for Android is the way to compete, because Windows 8 should have relatively solid support from app developers at launch. 

Conclusion (it may still happen)

All of that said, we don't think that DigiTimes or its unnamed Taiwan-based supply chain makers are 100% wrong on the prediction. More likely, the problem with the report is that it specifically claims that the update will be Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. The last prediction that DigiTimes came through with regarding Android tablets is still likely the correct one. After we heard that Google is working on a Nexus tablet, which will likely be released in time for Google I/O in June, we also heard that the Nexus tablet would come loaded with Android 4.1 (still Ice Cream Sandwich).  Word had it that Android 4.1 would have extra features that would entice tablet makers, and that does connect to the newer prediction. 

It seems almost inevitable that Android 4.1 will have the new Chrome Beta browser baked in as the standard browser. That alone will boost the quality of Android tablets (although Google partners and fanboys would have to stop talking about Flash support.) However, it seems highly unlikely that Google would release Android 5.0 Jelly Bean so soon and also bake in the entirety of Chrome OS, as DigiTimes is trying to assert. Despite the lack of uptake with Chrome OS, putting it on tablets is not the answer, because it is designed for devices with physical keyboards. Besides which, with Chrome Beta baked-in to Android there is almost no benefit to an Android/Chrome OS dual-boot environment. The only benefits that Chrome OS would hold would be a faster boot time, regular updates and Flash support. People don't tend to reboot or even fully shut down tablets all that often, so the only real benefit would be the Flash support, but for that Google could still include the older Android browser. 

We would certainly put money down that Google won't be dropping Jelly Bean so soon after Ice Cream Sandwich, because almost nothing about that makes sense. However, it does seem believable that Google would push a minor update to ICS along with the Nexus tablet that would bring in some headlines to Android tablets and energize developers behind the platform and the powerful new Chrome browser inside. 



1. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Given that I/O is fast approaching, I personally would look for an ICS v. 4.1 release. If Jelly Bean were to be released at I/O, there would be a stream of leaks at this point in the cycle.

23. Goldeneye

Posts: 419; Member since: Jan 22, 2011

Even though I love Android the more the OS evolves the more I'm convinced Android is destined to be fragmented forever is a price a open source OS has to pay (anybody can mess with it) whoever is so concerned about fragmentation just buy a Nexus device is the best bet if you don't like vanilla Android just pick the handset of your preference enjoy it and forget about being updated to the latest version, don't trust in any manufacturer/carrier that your device will be updated remember they'll tell anything to buy their products RAZR owners anybody? These guys are being evaluated! For ICS and they'll get it until late this year a couple months ago they said first quarter, and all of this is beyond Google control

26. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

"...the more the OS evolves the more I'm convinced Android is destined to be fragmented forever is a price a open source OS has to pay (anybody can mess with it)..." I am having trouble understanding your claim that further evolution of open source Android will result in increased fragmentation. How does Android 2.X, 3.X and 4.X result in greater fragmentation? Android 2.X is implemented on handsets that can support it and Android 4.X is implemented on handsets that can support it. Yes, there is a delay in release of ICS for handsets that were released before ICS was released on a handset (Razr as you cite), but that doesn't mean there is greater fragmentation as a result of Android being open source.

2. ericsorensen

Posts: 53; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Thanks for making sense of these rumors. Check out BGR if you want to see a completely opposite response.

3. Yankchef

Posts: 76; Member since: Feb 03, 2012

If going on past releases... wouldn't 4.1 be a new name? 2.2=froyo 2.3=gingerbread...

7. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

huh, good point.

8. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

while thats true, the last 2 releases have been 3.0 honeycomb and 4.0 ICS. 3.1 and 3.2 are still considered honeycomb. 2 was a drastic change from 1, 3 was a whole new OS, and 4 of course is a drastic change from 2 and 3. 2.1,2.2,2.3 added a lot of features but the OS itself was relatively unchanged. yes, i know there was some minor asthetic differences in 2.3 but it wasnt that big of a change.

27. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

I was starting to wonder how we would transition from ICS to JB. Froyo, Gingerbread and ICS can be considered to be deserts. But Jelly Bean (from ICS)? :-)

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

there are still a dozen browsers that have flash support, so its not like its going anywhere. on a side note, have you had any luck with chrome browser beta? i have the beta and its a crash magnet. cant get the thing to turn on for more than a second.

10. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

my beta cm9 makes chrome glitchy as f*ck because the hardware acceleration had to be hacked to work. it might be your rom.

11. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

more than likely. Michael has an actual G-Nex so i want to know if anyone actually gets it to work right.. lolol

12. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Chrome is my primary browser and it's been awesome. No issues at all

15. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

then it is most definately because we are on roms. darn it... found a chink in my roms armor.. lol

5. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

what can i say that isnt already perfectly reasoned in the article? thanks for squashing that rumor. it was ridiculous. i really want to know what is going to be on android 4.1. heres to hoping that 4.1 has cornerstone, the multi-pane functionality shown off by cm team.

22. Cwebb

Posts: 501; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Cornerstone would really kick win8's feet out from under them

24. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

i can dig it.

25. Cwebb

Posts: 501; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Hopefully the CM team will get it stable enough and have enough app support that Google won't do some kind of trickery involving the Android Market. But of course, we will find some way around it :P

6. ilia1986 unregistered

Ah finally an objective, well written and overall superb article from Michael, to bring forth the truth in these chaotic times. :)

9. paulyyd

Posts: 340; Member since: Jan 08, 2011


13. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

Great Job Alan F and Michael..... both were great articles about ICS and Android... even though you left the door open at the end of the article that coulds still be true leaving some loyal readers.. in limbo.... i alway loved your articles Michael.. but this one was not your best work... you clarifyed rumors but at the end.. open the door for more rumors...

14. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Rumors can become true or not . Your job is to judge how you think it's hard fo it to happen, but it could happen. Remember when you where nearly tasting that big iPhone screen or how awesome it was that a redesigned iPhone was tested in trains yet the same form factor was released. Where you wrong? Maybe but you have the right to speculate

16. beatsandmelody

Posts: 109; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

Regarding ICS adoption rate: ICS is a pretty major overhaul for Android. The Cyanogenmod team remarked on this in one of their progress reports. They even mused that while they like beating manufacturers to the punch with stable releases, that it might not happen this time around. ICS is a big deal. Go to the CM site and read about it. They specifically mention a lot of new things in the OS are breaking older legacy proprietary drivers. So yeah... Don't think Jelly Bean will be out that soon, but hey if it does, great. I'll be sure to flash it as soon as it's at least an RC.

17. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

I keep telling people Google wants once a year updates, its bad on their part showing off a new update which phones and devices won't get for another 6-9 months later, that's why apple is tight lipped about their updates. They release once a year major updates and people are OK with it because they didn't show it off 6-9 months prior. If they did and tell people what Google does by saying its coming in a few months, apple fans would be in the very same position .

18. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

I remember Google stating that after ICS, they want to go to a yearly update interval. There may be incremental updates inbetween, but major updates would be a yearly thing. That and the fact that Google said ICS was the iteration to unify phones and tablets were the reasons why I knew the Digitimes article was garbage. Nice save by the way Michael. PA owes you a pay raise.

19. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

I can still see it happening if Google wants to beat Microsoft to the punch in a take on upcoming high end tablet and touch ultrabook/netbook market. it could essentially be just a specifically market targeted ICS plus Chrome solution, so it wouldn't affect phone manufacturers, they wouldn't need to upgrade from ICS

20. gkquiambao

Posts: 62; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

I don't think Microsoft will beat Android. At least not this year. Windows 8 tablets is so expensive. No one will buy it over Android tablets

21. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

I don't see how MS is some kind of treat, besides making money off of Android OEM's, they don't have anything to bring to the table. How can you bring out MS8 when MS7 aint doing anything. Once ICS comes out fully to all phones and devices it will have hardware acceleration to keep the phone a constint smooth feel.

28. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Its w8/w7 not ms8/ms7.

29. Bokisa333

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I can't wait! First Jellybean phone!

30. Bokisa333

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Ah, and... Android tablets are best!

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