I have a dream. I have a dream that, one day, an Android phone user will be able to browse through a catalog of OS versions and install the one he/she prefers instead of being limited to manufacturer- and carrier-specific customizations that may or may not work as advertised. I have a dream that HTC, Samsung, LG, and Motorola embrace the spirit of openness and allow their consumers to choose to void their warranties by unlocking their phones' bootloaders to make modifications to their device as they wish. I have a dream today!
Idyllic, isn't it? I find myself wondering whether my dream is too far fetched; I sure hope it isn't. Manufacturers stop supporting their devices quickly nowadays and opt to release a new piece of hardware every few months instead. But this is Android and, thanks to a bunch of very clever people from the Android development community, even users of the first generation phone--the HTC Dream (also known as a T-Mobile G1)--are currently enjoying the latest and greatest Gingerbread-y goodness.
I can't just point a finger at the manufacturers. They are in business to make money which, ultimately, means selling more devices. Some of the onus must lie with the consumers. Consumers must learn to expect that a smartphone can be customized to fit their specific needs. As phones get smarter, they must also become more flexible and customizable. It is unacceptable for a phone to provide a half-broken cloud service which syncs random contacts and is generally unhelpful without providing me with the option to completely remove it and replace it. It is unacceptable for a phone built on top of an ecosystem based on customization to force me to use a specific skin or set of applications.
When it comes down to it, I bought an Android phone because I wanted a phone I could customize to fit my needs. Thanks to the dedicated folks over at xda-developers, I got exactly what I wanted. I have a dream that every other Android user and those planning to become one get exactly what they want. I have a dream today!