AT&T CEO said something that you'd think wouldn't come from the CEO of a company that deals with so many Android phones. He basically said that Google decides who and when manufacturers get Android updates, which couldn't be further from the truth. Here's his quote:
"Google kind of determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. Often times that's a negotiated arrangement, and so that's something we work at hard. We know that it's important to our customers."
Unless he means that Google is negotiating with them about getting them to stop putting bloatware on Android phones, then I don't see how Google can influence the release of an Android update, once a phone has already met Google's requirements for the Android market. Google does this to make sure everything is nice and compatible, but this is only a verification process that maybe lasts for a few days, and has nothing to do with the months the manufacturers and carriers are working on the update before they release it, whether it's because the carriers are too slow testing them or because the manufacturers spend too much time adding their own stuff to Android.
And here's Google's response:
"Mr. Stephenson's carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don't understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches. Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world."
Now, while right now carriers and manufacturers are the most to blame for these huge delays, I think that in the grand scheme of things Google is also guilty for not coming up with a better upgrade system for letting people upgrade their own phones and much faster. And probably the best way to do that is to follow the Windows (not WP7, which still works mostly like Android) driver system.
If they can get everyone to bundle their drivers into the core of Android, then people would be able to download the latest version of Android as soon as it is available, and it would just work. Of course, just like on Windows, the manufacturers would still need to upgrade their drivers, so before releasing another major version of Android, Google would have to give them at least a 6 months heads-up and give them access "privately" to this beta version of Android, so they can work out all the kinks before the new major version of Android gets released.
Whichever way they do it, Google still needs to find a way to make upgrading Android phones a lot easier for users, and a lot less expensive for manufacturers and carriers. If this means taking the carriers out of the upgrading equation, then even better!