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Is Samsung Blocking Updates To Froyo? 459

Posted by timothy
from the my-captivate-weeps-for-froyo dept.
jfruhlinger writes "One of the complaints about Android is its fragmentation; many different versions of the OS are out there in the wild, and often users are held back from upgrading by their hardware or their carrier. But now a disturbing rumor has it that Samsung is strong-arming T-Mobile to prevent an over-the-air upgrade to Android 2.2 (Froyo) for Samsung Vibrant owners. The reason? Samsung wants people to shell out for the new Vibrant 4G — which, other than the fact that it ships running Froyo, is largely identical to the Vibrant." Reader CWmike contributes an informative link if you'd like to know which Android vendors are actually delivering timely upgrades.
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Is Samsung Blocking Updates To Froyo?

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  • Open Platform? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:59PM (#34871748)

    Hows all that "open platform" "not locked to a walled garden" "no need to jailbreak" Android working out for all the people that rant and rave against the iPhone?

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:04PM (#34871812)
    The good thing about Android is that it's open and anyone can add features, customizations, etc. to it.

    The bad thing about Android is that the manufacturers and the carriers usually end up raping it and making it a worse experience.

    The ugly part is that Google doesn't seem to care all that much and is perfectly willing to put up with this kind of crap.
  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:05PM (#34871826)

    Hows all that "open platform" "not locked to a walled garden" "no need to jailbreak" Android working out for all the people that rant and rave against the iPhone?

    Quite well, as long as the Nexus S and/or the various Android Dev Phones are available.

  • Vendor dependence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:05PM (#34871844)

    Not to say this rumor is true, but this is why forced vendor dependence is a bad thing. I'm not sure if Samsung is doing it (and they aren't yet, as I understand it) but if Samsung was doing what Motorola was and signing the kernel, then such fixes and updates would be impossible to install.

    As it stands, you can root a Samsung device and load whatever ROM you want on it. But beware, this is the sort of behavior that they want such lock down for. Not for your security, but to deliberately limit the lifespan of your device and make you buy a new one.

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:10PM (#34871894) Homepage

    How's them sour grapes tasting?

    That's not sour grapes, that is deliciously sardonic.

    He has a point, how often do you see someone saying "my Android is the bomb because it's open and I don't need Apple's permission to install software." Apparently you need the permission of Samsung and/or T-Mobile.

    Surprise, every vendor in the world wants to love you in, and Android isn't the silver bullet.

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lazareth (1756336) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:15PM (#34871960)

    Most vendors would never allow that. Not necessarily out of malice, but because it would remove their control of a phone which the customers ultimately will blame them for if it stops working. They would also risk getting in some unwanted crossfire regarding "no DRM". When you get down to it, you have to acknowledge that they're just a business and not necessarily the guardian of your personal opinion about how it should be.

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:15PM (#34871962)
    It is funny you mention that since I believe Microsoft managed to negotiate terms for their new WP7 phones so that the carriers couldn't block an update for more than one update cycle. They've also been more aggressive about ensuring the manufacturers meet some minimal hardware specification.

    The truth of the matter is that Google probably doesn't care. They just want a phone out their that's making Google searches and serving up Google ads through apps. They don't care if it's a 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, or 2.3 Android phone. They just wanted to ensure that they couldn't be cut out of the new mobile market that was starting to take off. Google is only as open as serves their own interests. They're perfectly willing to make Android entirely open so that manufacturers will adopt it instead of something else like Windows Phone 7, but it will be a cold day in hell before Google open sources their search algorithms.
  • Demand your rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by straponego (521991) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:15PM (#34871972)
    Customers should demand that the phone's come with documentation stating A) What upgrade rights the customer has, B) The minimum span for which the vendor promises to support the phone by issuing upgrades to the standard Android build or a variant, and C) In the event that the company cannot fulfill (B), for example, because that particular model sold poorly, or the company goes out of business, that the phones will be completely unlocked (except for the black box components that let you violate FCC regs) and third party vendors or OSS hackers can issue their own upgrades, at the customer's own risk. Oh, and include a revert to original state option in case an upgrade goes south.

    These rules could probably use some fine tuning, but I believe that this will make purchasing decisions simpler and budgets more predictable. It will also establish a sense of trust and even loyalty with the vendors that follow this model. As it stands, very few phone makers or telcos have earned any trust whatsoever. We just have to guess who will screw us hardest-- and when the contestants are Microsoft, Sony, AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Samsung, that's not a fun game.

    Smart phones are expensive, and they're taking the place of PCs in many areas. PC vendors don't restrict your ability to install an alternative OS. We should expect the same from phone vendors. The status quo encourages forced waste-- which is always profitable for a few scumbags, but it's bad for all other life on the planet, consumers included.
  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geniusj (140174) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:20PM (#34872016) Homepage

    I find that I'm free to install whatever I want on my Nexus One. I suppose it depends which vendor you decide to get into bed with.

  • Quite well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:20PM (#34872022)

    Quite well, as long as the Nexus S and/or the various Android Dev Phones are available.

    Yes, just as the iPhone is a great open platform, for after all we have jailbreaking.

  • by feepness (543479) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:42PM (#34872306) Homepage
    I really like it actually. GPS is spotty compared to iPhone, but other than that it is world's better (in my opinion). The OLED is gorgeous.

    That said I will never purchase another Samsung device that needs updating. I was promised Froyo in September after purchasing in June. Still haven't gotten it. Sure I got my own Froyo update in December, but I expected an update and got shafted. I'd read bad reports about Samsung not updating in the past and thought "this time will be different... this is a flagship device." Nope.

    I dislike the "this group messed up, so hate the whole company" attitude, so I would consider a TV or the like. But not a phone.
  • I know the fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Plattz (1589701) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:45PM (#34872346)

    Call me naive, but it seems to me that a lot of these problems can be resolved by Google allowing (and release a application to do it) for any device to be flashed reliably to a stock Android [stable] release. Past and present.

    Manufacturers don't want to update there fancy phone and custom UI to the latest? That's fine. But the user is still allowed to manually update themselves and lose the original features they bought into. Guess what -- those fancy features that brought them to your phone may prove to be optional and there's a much better chance they won't choose your hardware platform moving forward. This may be a big enough kick up the butt that the manufacturers need.

  • Not surprising? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samfisher5986 (1927786) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:55PM (#34872460)
    Samsung have done this since their first Android phone, the Galaxy i7500. Why do you continue buying Samsung phones when you know they will do this?
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:07PM (#34872566) Homepage Journal []
    -CITE- 15 USC Sec. 2302 02/01/2010
    -HEAD- Sec. 2302. Rules governing contents of warranties
    No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer's using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name;

    (some exceptions, etc...)

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:09PM (#34872588) Homepage

    The good thing about Android is that it's open and anyone can add features, customizations, etc. to it. The bad thing about Android is that the manufacturers and the carriers usually end up raping it and making it a worse experience. The ugly part is that Google doesn't seem to care all that much and is perfectly willing to put up with this kind of crap.

    And why should it? How many Android phones would manufacturers be able to put on the market if every single one of them had an identical experience, but on slightly different hardware? Allowing phone makers to innovate on top of the base OS is the whole point of releasing Android as an open OS. In case you hadn't noticed, Google even competes with the other manufacturers with its own branded phones! If handset makers can't develop UIs that people like, is Google to blame? Don't buy those phones.

    Honestly, I hear all this about "Android fragmentation" and how terrible it is, but all it really seems to amount to is that people always want the phone they could have bought six months after they bought theirs. We've had that problem with computers for years.

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:15PM (#34872632)

    There's no reason that Google couldn't include rules like "No DRM" or "Upgrades must be allowed." That would certainly make it more open.

    But they didn't do that.


    Because for all their marketing hype (from an ad agency?!?! whoda thunk!) Google is all about milking as much $$$ from their customers that they can.

    The difference is Google's customers aren't you, me, or any other normal person. Google's real customers are the ones who pay for ads, or pay for special placement in Google's "it's not a seach result" search results.

    Why do you think Google's so big on Net Neutrality? If Verizon can charge someone to send bits across Verizon's considerable networks, that all the less money available in the market that Google can charge? Don't think so? Between Google and Verizon, which one has a private jumbo jet?

    Hell, even Microsoft licensed then-Sun's Java patents for C# and .Net. Not Google, because Sun actually wanted a good chunk of change to allow Google to use that IP. Nope, Google tried to be underhanded and subvert Sun's IP.

    Google's all about money - for Google.

    Hell, Google outfitted a boatload of vehicles to, among other things, go around and snoop private wireless networks.

    And yet, there's always some fanboi who's bought into the "don't be evil" marketing tripe.

  • JUSTIFIED TOP POST (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:03PM (#34873034) Homepage

    The Samsung Intercept, at least the one distributed by Virgin Mobile, is going to the the Froyo update soon. So any insinuation that Samsung blocks all android updates is false. []

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by angus77 (1520151) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:16PM (#34873122)
    So where's the phone for adults who have their own cars and pay for their own pizzas? And have keys to their own houses?
  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:18PM (#34873146)

    Reading comprehension fail. The problem is not nor it has ever been "permission to install software on Android". The problem is the ability to install a brand new OS, chosen by the user. If an android user wishes to install any piece of software then he only needs to click on the "let me install any third party software" check box and he is free to do so.

    How do you like them apples? (or the inability to install any software in them apples, FWIW)

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:25PM (#34873216)

    Just spreading the word ought to do it.

    Reason: The more you keep politicians away from software, the better. Look at how they're doing with a fairly simple concept like net neutrality.

    Another reason: you go out on a limb with support issues of when upgrades brick a phone, causes application problems, and so on. For those reasons, a grace period is reasonable. If the phone's OS version is locked down, then once we know that, we choose the path of self-support, third-party support, or something that the vendor becomes removed from. Samsung isn't obligated to support Android thru version N, only the one that they sold it with or otherwise give tacit support to. If they get a bad rep (are you listening Microsoft?) about putting out OS releases that stiffs a long generation of phones, so be it. If we know in advance, fine, let us make choices. If you foist this on us, you'll be unhappy with your sales and reputation.

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HoldmyCauls (239328) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:39PM (#34873320) Journal

    You mean T-Mobile needs Samsung's permission. I can run 2.2, 2.3, Cyanogen or another variant, without anyone's permission. I just don't get the support level they would promise. That's been the issue from day one. If I don't need support, why follow the rules?

  • Re:Open Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:47PM (#34873398)

    Who says I'm attacking Android, or this is "the best thing I've got"? I happen to think Android is exactly what the smartphone market needs (and I'm an iPhone user), and have seen some truly exceptional Android-based handsets.

    You are very quick to leap on any perceived criticism of the platform though, as evidenced by not thoroughly reading my post. The open nature of Android is one of its biggest strengths, but it also its biggest weakness, since what is open for the user is also open to the vendor (and carrier), so you end up with a situation that exists right now. There *are* Android phones on the market right now that are locked down, and not upgradable without rooting them (not necessarily the one in the article - as you say, rumour). For you or I, "simply" installing a custom ROM onto a phone is "easy", but for the vast majority of phone users I imagine you'd have to start by explaining that a modern smartphone is much like a computer with an operating system.... then you'd have to explain what an operating system is.

    Just because it's trivial for you to defeat the roadblocks put in place by handset manufacturers or carriers does not eliminate the issue. Joe Sixpack is not going to root his phone, or even drop a custom OS image on there (that isn;t offered as an easy, official update from his carrier or manufacturer, and even then he has to go looking for it).

    You have to take the rough with the smooth. It's a pitfall that the iOS ecosystem has largely avoided (although is still slightly affected by due to 3 handsets and a tablet), but at the cost of the much greater flexibility offered by Android. There are are pros and cons to both approaches. Just because I dare to suggest that there might be some negative aspects to something related to Android doesn't mean I'm "attacking" it.

    I think your sig is remarkably apt in this situation.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:11AM (#34875672)

    It's gone to hell because quality control isn't a requirement anymore in this wonderful new age where everything has updatable operating systems and drivers.

    Now they can ship it out "good enough" and make everyone who buys it at the beginning be their bug testers. Then release a firmware patch several months later to fix it. Rinse and repeat until the bugs are all gone or the company has milked all the money they can out of sales and moved on to hyping the newest model.

    Back when this wasn't possible they had to do quality testing, because a product that made it to market with a major bug could require an expensive recall to fix.

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries