HTC Corp. is promising updates for all its smartphones to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) by month's end as users of its devices get restless.
"We're still planning to finish updates for all announced devices by the end of August," the company said in response to user questions on HTC's Facebook page. "Thanks for remaining so patient!"
Meanwhile, the international version of the HTC One X, already running 4.0, will get an update to Android 4.0.4. Several HTC devices are still waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich updates, however, including the Droid Incredible 2, the Desire S and HD, the Evo 4G +, Thunderbolt and Rhyme.
Android 4.0, first released in October 2011, bridges the gap between Gingerbread (2.3) and Honeycomb (3.0), the operating system designed for tablet optimization. It includes major improvements to the browser, better widgets, automatic syncing with Chrome browser bookmarks, better folder management with drag and drop and facial recognition for security unlocking, among many other features.
Google unveiled its next version of Android, 4.1, at its I/O developers conference in San Francisco in June. Android 4.1 is nicknamed Jelly Bean in keeping with the dessert-treat theme of releases.
As well received as Ice Cream Sandwich is, many users of older devices running Gingerbread or lower may end up skipping it if they buy new devices in the near future that run Jelly Bean.
Statistic posted by Google last month show that the majority of Android users, 63.6 percent, are still using Android 2.3.3 through 2.3.7, part of the Gingerbread release.
Struggling for Share
According to statistics released in June by research firm comScore, Taiwan-based HTC is in sixth place in the U.S. market with just 6.4 percent share, up slightly from 6.0 in March. The company trails U.S.-based Motorola (12.8 percent), U.S.-based Apple (14 percent) and South Korea's LG (19 percent) and Samsung (26 percent). Apple, whose iPhone is the single best-selling device, saw the biggest rise during that period with 1.6 percent.
HTC is faring even more poorly in the global market, according to second-quarter numbers. Research firm IDC found that its year-over-year change was -24.1 percent, dropping from 10.7 to 5.7 percent share, behind Nokia (6.6 percent) Apple (16.9 percent) and Samsung, which at 32.6 percent is now the king of the mobile hill with a 172.8 increase from the same quarter of 2011. HTC is, for now, beating a Chinese rival, ZTE, which has 5.2 percent of the market, but that company saw the biggest year over year growth at 300 percent, up from just 1.8 percent.
All the above manufacturers except Apple and Nokia make a range of devices powered by Android.
That means the updates won't necessarily help HTC's devices compete.
"Since all the top manufacturers will have 4.0, it's back to whether one manufacturer's hardware is better than another, or whether the add-on features in software are better than another," said analyst Ken Dulaney of Gartner . "Just having 4.0 means little in the battle among vendors."