When Apple entered the mobile handset business, one of the biggest breaks they made with tradition is that they retained control of the software update process for the iPhone. Regardless of your carrier, which software runs on your phone is between you and Apple, and Apple does a very good job of maintaining support for old handsets with their software updates.
In many cases, with Android, it’s up to the carriers when your phone gets new software, and they have not broken with their long tradition of being very conservative when it comes to distributing software updates. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to update my 27 month old iPhone 3GS to iOS 5 the day it was released. Many people buy Android handsets and never get to run the most recent software, as shown on this chart.
For many customers, this is probably not a big deal. They’re fine with running the software that shipped with their phone as long as they own it, but I find it strange that enthusiasts are OK with it.