From the comments here, it seems like some of you have never touched an Android device.
First with the updates. I don't know how it was on previous versions of Android. But on my Nexus One with Android 2.1, you get a notification in the window blind notification bar. Slide it down, click 'Okay' and you're done. I really don't understand why people find this difficult. Though I do understand that previous updates on some devices had carrier issues. My only complaint is that there's no auto-download function.
Next, the whole fragmentation thing. That's vastly over-exaggerated on these forums. The vast, vast majority of apps work across all handsets. And where apps might only be compatible with later versions of Android, it's really not that different than what's happening on with Apple. Think of the upcoming OS and all the hardware changes. Is every Apple app here on in, going to be capable of running on an iPhone 3G? Heck, that phone can't even absorb all the new OS features. There's some fragmentation on Android to be sure. But it's no more the death of Android than upcoming fragmentation is the death of the iPhone ecosystem. In the mobile world, which develops at an incredible pace, some fragmentation is simply inevitable.
One valid criticism though is app quality. Android Market is just not there yet. But it's hard to say if it'll stay that way permanently. If you own an Android handset, you can actually see how quickly the Market is going. The choice of apps is getting better. And it's not just a quality control issue. A lot of the apps coming to Android Market are simply apps ported over from the iPhone. So quality isn't necessarily the problem. It's the rate at which they are getting ported over. A lot of the most popular apps aren't quite there yet.
But on the app side, the biggest ones I think are the Google Apps. They're the ones that people want for Android and the iPhone. Where would the iPhone be without Google search, youtube and Google Maps? I think the big question mark is what Google is going to do with all its newer stuff. Will it make Google Maps Navigation available on the iPhone? Or will that be an Android exclusive? These apps are huge differentiators. Being able to pass on a GPS to get free turn-by-turn navigation in a phone they are buying is a big selling point for a lot of regular people. Heck, this is why some of the Nokia 'navigation' phones sell so well globally. And that's just maps. What will Google with other new features in the future?
On to some other points:
1) Apple doesn't care about market share.
Maybe for their other product lines. But not for the iPhone. Market share drives everything. They only have one phone. And that means only one way to popularize their OS. This can be a good thing. It drives them to make a really, really solid product obviously. Or it could have terrible
consequences. Remember what happened the last time they refused to license their OS? And If Android becomes the Windows of smartphones, guess what happens to all that developer talent that develops great apps for the iPhone.
2) Verizon needs Apple more than Apple needs Verizon.
We'll see. I don't see mass migration between Verizon and AT&T yet. But clearly, Android is taking off, because Apple chooses to restrict itself to AT&T. And it's not just Verizon. T-Mobile would have been easy for them. Nokia's upcoming N8 will be quint band with T-Mobile's AWS/Band IV spectrum. I am hard pressed to believe Apple could not have pulled off the same thing.
Ultimately for most wireless customers, what matters is network quality and plans, not the handset per se. No matter how powerful an iPhone, it does not matter if the phone is not available on the best network in your region or the carrier that offers the price you want. A good example would be Canada. Our three national carriers and their discount brands all carry the iPhone. But there's a lot of folks like me passing on the iPhone. Why? Because we'd rather take up plans with the new entrants who have significantly lower prices. And they operate on AWS/Band IV. So I chose a Nexus One on Wind over an iPhone on Rogers.
Time will tell if this strategy pays off for Apple. If the rumours are true, then Apple is stuck with AT&T until 2012. That's a long time in the cellphone business. And that's a lot of customers who will be experience an Android handset by then. And they aren't going to be trying out a Droid/Milestone or a Hero. They'll be getting an X10, a Droid Incredible or EVO 4G. And even better handsets coming out over the next 2 years. We'll know in two years if getting that massive subsidy from AT&T was worthwhile for Apple in the long run. Personally, I think they should have at least opened it up to T-Mo this summer and then moved on Verizon next year. But hopefully Jobs is smarter than me!