HTC DesireHTC UK on Tuesday announced on its Facebook page that the popular HTC Desire smartphone would not get an update to the latest version of Android because there isn’t enough RAM on the device to run both Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) and HTC Sense, the skin HTC has on all its smartphones. Hundreds of users on Facebook have complained about HTC’s inability to issue the update.

HTC’s full statement reads:

Our engineering teams have been working hard for the past few months to find a way to bring Gingerbread to the HTC Desire without compromising the HTC Sense experience you’ve come to expect from our phones. However, we’re sorry to announce that we’ve been forced to accept there isn’t enough memory to allow us both to bring Gingerbread and keep the HTC Sense experience on the HTC Desire. We’re sincerely sorry for the disappointment that this news may bring to some of you.

The disappointing news highlights the continuing problem of Android fragmentation. As an “open-source OS”, there are many versions of Android available on multiple types of models, and sometimes older models get left out when new software becomes available.

Desire owners have lashed out against the manufacturer on Facebook underneath the announcement. Lasse Jari Hansen, a Sense owner, echoed many of the complaints on Facebook with this response:

Shame on you HTC! It’s okay if you won’t update Sense to newer versions, but you pledged to update the OS for at least 18 months. The model is only just a year old in Denmark, and my phone is barely 6 months old. You make it very tough to recommend HTC/Sense to friends and family in the future.

Some Android developers have already cracked the code to combine Gingerbread with HTC Sense, which makes me wonder why HTC hasn’t figured out a way to make a Gingerbread update happen. It could theoretically strip down Sense to make it run on the Desire with Gingerbread. While this would lessen HTC’s branding and footprint on the phone, it would help consumers by delivering new Android features like a better keyboard and advanced power management.