December 23, 2011

Samsung: No ICS Upgrade for Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

“Samsung has just distributed the worst news of this Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade cycle: the popular Galaxy S smartphone that sold 10 million units last year and the 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablet won’t be upgraded to Android 4.0. “

The Galaxy S wireless phone was announced in March, 2010. The Galaxy Tab tablet was announced in September, 2010. Neither will see the newest version of the Android operating system, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), yet that’s the first follow-on update since the version those devices shipped with. For the new features found in that update users will have to buy a new phone or tablet.

Think about that. Tablets are often described as the future of computing, yet the flagship tablet of the Android product universe has an OS life span of just one version, and one year. Users should be outraged.

Sure, the Tab will continue to function as a useful computing and entertainment device for a while yet. But OS upgrades come along to provide users with new and enhanced features. When you rock an Android device, apparently, you don’t upgrade. You pay.

Contrast that with Apple’s tablet, the iPad, announced March, 2010. An eighteen-month old iPad has seen two major upgrades of iOS, Apple’s mobile OS, and a few minor bumps. It remains useful with the latest software and will likely see at least one more major upgrade. Customers paid once and continue to enjoy new features, like FaceTime (not on iPad 1. Thanks, Oday!), iMessage, iCloud, iBooks and Game Center.

Consider, too, the Apple iPhone 3GS. Introduced in June, 2009, it is still for sale priced at 99-cents and has seen three major iOS updates, plus several minor bumps. New features abound. New customers can get one for nearly nothing with a two-year contract.

It’s occasionally helpful to remind oneself who’s the customer in a business relationship. The answer often explains much.

For Android users, the customer relationship is between device manufacturers and wireless service providers. The purpose of Android platform development is providing a foundation for the carriers to license and sell. The end users of Android-based devices, though they willingly pay for their gadget purchases, are apparently an afterthought. That's what they should be outraged about.

Want new Android features? Pay up, sucker.