Mobile OEM’s Demanding Money From Carriers To Provide Update?


18, 2011

Author Pradeep // in News


Providing regular updates is key to the success of any smartphone platform. An update can be of a critical nature, a general maintenance release, or one that adds features. The phone manufacturers along with carriers usually provide all of these updates free for consumers. A few years back only critical and maintenance updates were mainly released to phones, so there was no problem in providing updates. But now as smartphone platforms are regularly updated, so follows the headache for phone OEM’s such as Samsung. However, HTC and Motorola are happy to provide the update whereas Samsung is demanding money from US carriers to provide each incremental Android update for their Galaxy line of phones, as reported by someone on the XDA Developer forums. I think Microsoft should clearly leave carriers out of the update process within the Windows Phone 7 platform to avoid such problems. It should follow Apple’s update process, which is great; in accordance with a recent study that found 90% of iOS users are using the latest major update whereas Android 2.1 has 35%, Android 2.2 has 50 %.

The whole matter is revealed in the XDA-Developer forums after the break.

Thanks to Gibbs for the tip.


I’m going to step across the NDAs and explain the issues behind the Android Froyo update to Samsung Galaxy S phones in the United States. I think most of you have come to this realization yourself now: the withholding of the Froyo update is a largely political one, not a technological one: Froyo runs quite well on Galaxy S phones, as those of you that have run leaked updates may have noticed.
To explain the political situation, first, a primer on how phone firmware upgrades work for carriers. When a carrier decides to sell a phone, a contract is usually written between the phone manufacturer and the carrier. In this contract, the cost of updates (to the carrier) is usually outlined. Updates are usually broken into several types: critical updates, maintenance updates, and feature updates. Critical updates are those that resolve a critical bug in the phone, such as the phone overheating. Maintenance updates involve routine updates to resolve bugs and other issues reported by the carrier. Finally, feature updates add some new feature in software that wasn’t present before. Critical updates are usually free, maintenance updates have some maintenance fee associated with them, and feature updates are usually costly.
In the past, most phone updates would mainly consist of critical and maintenance updates. Carriers almost never want to incur the cost of a feature update because it is of little benefit to them, adds little to the device, and involves a lot of testing on the carrier end. Android has changed the playing field, however – since the Android Open Source Project is constantly being updated, and that information being made widely available to the public, there is pressure for the phone to be constantly updated with the latest version of Android. With most manufacturers, such as HTC, Motorola, etc. This is fine and considered a maintenance upgrade. Samsung, however, considers it a feature update, and requires carriers to pay a per device update fee for each incremental Android update.
Now, here’s where the politics come in: most U.S. carriers aren’t very happy with Samsung’s decision to charge for Android updates as feature updates, especially since they are essentially charging for the Android Open Source Project’s efforts, and the effort on Samsung’s end is rather minimal. As a result of perhaps, corporate collusion, all U.S. carriers have decided to refuse to pay for the Android 2.2 update, in hopes that the devaluation of the Galaxy S line will cause Samsung to drop their fees and give the update to the carriers. The situation has panned out differently in other parts of the world, but this is the situation in the United States.
Some of you might have noticed Verion’s Fascinate updated, but without 2.2 : This is a result of a maintenance agreement Samsung must honor combined with Verizon’s unwillingness to pay the update fees.
In short, Android 2.2 is on hold for Galaxy S phones until the U.S. carriers and Samsung reach a consensus.
Some might wonder why I didn’t deliver this over a more legitimate news channel – the short answer: I don’t want to lose my job. I do, however, appreciate transparency, which is why I’m here.

Source: XDA Forums

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