Why does Google do a staggered rollout for new Android versions OTA?

Okay guys, rant time again. This time it's in response to all those annoying Google+ posts by people impatiently whining about why they didn't get the over-the-air (OTA) update for Android 5.0 Lollipop yet.

This is a topic that has been no-doubt beaten to death already by bigger, more established Android blogs and news sites, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it.

Android follows a staggered release model for new versions. This means that a certain small percentage of users will get the update first, followed by a somewhat larger portion, followed by another larger portion, etc., until everyone has it. This is done as a quality control measure on Google's part: if a serious bug is in the OTA update, it's preferable to have only a few of your users affected by it and submit a few bug reports (so it can be fixed before you continue rolling it out), as opposed to everyone being affected, getting mad, flooding you with bug reports, and losing respect for the quality of your product. This is what happened to Apple, except perhaps for the "losing respect" part - Apple fans are infamously tolerant of the company's shortcomings. For the most part, Apple can get away with pushing out updates to everyone simultaneously because almost everyone's iDevice is identical to everyone else's of the same model - and there are fewer potential real-world issues as a result after testing has been done.

Handling bugs is an important issue in software development, especially for complex projects. (Android, being an entire operating system, qualifies as a complex project.) There can be many more special cases and potential bugs lurking in real-world usage by average users than programmers can hope to account for, and the only solution for this is more testing and bug fixing. A developer preview was made available by Google for developers to use in getting their apps ready for Android 5.0 when it came out - this was not meant for the general testing only a staggered rollout can provide, and cannot provide this testing because it's not the finished product and usually does not reflect actual usage by non-developers.

So please, be patient, and understand that what Google is doing is meant to give more users a smoother upgrade experience. Google is trying to make sure Lollipop is ready for the masses before letting just anybody have a taste. Wait for those cookies to finish baking. This is good advice regardless of whichever new version of software you are anxiously anticipating.

I, for one, am waiting for my OTA patiently. I certainly don't have the time to hassle with any issues which could be sorted out beforehand, and I'd like my first experience with Lollipop to be a positive one.

P.S. Please don't clear your Google Services Framework cache to force the update. This piece of "advice" keeps coming up, and people have to keep debunking it or finding out why it's bad for themselves. Google itself says this will lead to problems which could require you to factory reset your device to clear them up, which is really inconvenient to say the least.

If you really need to be running Android 5.0 Lollipop right now, then you can try checking this for some advice.

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