The Problem With Android Updates, Again

If you own a Samsung Galaxy Android device, there's a good chance you're expecting an update to the second most recent release of Android, version 2.2. It has not arrived! A purported insider explains why. Short version: money.

As commenter The Samsung Secret tells it on XDA developers, there are a few kinds of updates for phones. Namely critical, maintenance and feature updates. Phonemakers develop and release them, based on a contract they sign with a carrier. Critical updates, resolving a crazy bug are provided to carriers from phonemakers for free; maintenance updates, the routine ones, "have some maintenance fee associated with them"; and finally, according to their account, feature updates, which add new things, "are usually costly".

According to him (or her!), Samsung considers major Android updates to be a feature update, so it wants to charge carriers for those updates. (Unlike other major Android phonemakers, who this person says do not charge for Android updates. And indeed, we verified with a major Android phonemaker that they don't charge carriers for big Android releases, so this is not routine.) Anyway, according to this person, carriers don't want to pay for these updates. Or as they put it, "all US 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".

We've reached out to some carriers, along with Samsung for some comment on the allegations, but haven't heard anything as of press time. If they have to something to add, we'll update. Whatever the case maybe, one thing's certainly true: The update to Android 2.2 hasn't arrived, and some vocal portion of Galaxy owners are beginning to get antsy.

(Feel free to make your own comments about the irony of Samsung making the Nexus S, the only device running the latest, best version of Android.) [XDA developers]