Should we be kept updated?

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and they had a featured discussion on software updates, and whether or not as consumers, we should expect device manufacturers to update our devices during their lives.

I think the answer to this is a resounding yes! I work in the telecoms industry and I think that from a selling/recommendations point of view, the fact that the phone you get when signing your 18 or 24 month contract will evolve and offer new things over that time you own it is a huge plus point.

In the good old days when all phones were good for was call and texts, and some basic wap browsing, software updates were few and far between. As anyone with a mild interest in technology knows, the pace of development is staggering, and products are superseded very quickly, software updates go along way to elevate this.

Ok, so I understand that not everyone is completely up to speed on what the latest version of their chosen OS might be, but with smartphone contract prices moving down the scale, it’s not just the tech junkie making a smartphone their next choice.

A lot has been made of Android fragmentation, so its fair to say that updates and their timing will continue to be a talking point for a while yet.

Should we be kept updated?

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  • Moo Moo Head

    Tell that to Sony Ericsson

  • Will_nonya

    As a customer I would agree, I want my device to be as useful and current as possible throughout its life.
    As a person making a pitch to sell one I can see the benefit as well.

    Where I think we’ll lose out is that it takes money to develop, deploy and support a software update and before doing this companies have to answer the question of how this makes money for the business. Offering regular updates might help sell a few more handsets to the less tech savvy and get them on contract for the more expensive services but I can’t see that as a huge inducement. Sadly it probably makes more sense to focus this development effort on the next big thing to help draw in more customers with the latest and greatest which also creates tech or fashion envy that gets existing customers to buy early upgrades or off contract handsets. Seriously who wants an 18 month old handset no matter how updated the software is.

  • update all the way! I had to wait ages for 3 and HTC to sort out 2.2. but you know what? im running pretty much stock 2.3.3, and I have no issues with using my handset on the network.

    I have the feelings that manufacturers and networks don’t (or cant) expend the effort to put their bloatware on handsets, so its easier to simply not update, and make the consumer upgrade to new kit. therefore generating more money. they really dont have an incentive to upgrade our software.

  • Android updates are going to be an issue for a very long time. Apple are the only ones who have the updating procedure right but that’s probably got a lot do with the fact that they’re the only ones with enough clout to put the networks in their place. Until networks and handset manufacturers are taken out of the picture the procedure will stay convoluted.

    Even looking back to the WinMo days, manufacturers and networks have never had an incentive to offer OS updates. Why spend money developing and releasing updates which improve your phone when they can just leave it be and thus provide a greater incentive to upgrade.

    • Dan James

      Apple are the only ones who have the updating procedure right but that’s probably got a lot do with the fact that they’re the only ones with enough clout to put the networks in their place.

      No its because they only have 1 phone…….. so they don’t have to test it on many different phones.

      • Blob

        And (AFAIK) Apple do not allow networks to put their own crapp on there. So all updates are equal.

        • That’s what I mean by Apple are the only ones with enough clout. Networks messing with ROMs leads to more testing and massive delays, not to mention worse software for users.

      • No it really isn’t. It’s because once Apple have completed an update there is no barrier to them releasing it to their users. Once HTC/Samsung/LG complete an update it goes to the networks for testing and then customising.

        With the Desire, 2.2 updates didn’t arrive from networks for weeks after HTC finished their work. In Vodafone’s case when it did finally arrive it was full of crapware.

        And that’s if the networks want to release the updates. If they don’t then users are just stuffed.

    • Will_nonya

      Apple also opperates in a very closed environment with strong quality standard for what makes it on a device. Android has both the blessing and curse of being completley open adn the OEM’s and users can put whatever nonsense theyy want on there making the update process much more involved. Apple also doesnt have significant updates as often as Android.

      Personally I dont prefer apple the “AOL” of phones and I love HTC phones regardless of the OS.

      I’d certainly like to have frequent updates i just dont think its a practical expectation given the current business models for OEM’s and carriers.

      • In my experience Apple updates are much less frequent but are fairly major. A new version of Android seems to hit every few months but IMHO 2.2 and 2.3 have been fairly minor updates over 2.1. They definitely weren’t anything like as big as the jump from 1.6 to 2.1.

        The saving grace of Android is the 1000s of devs who spend their time and effort filling in the gaps that the OEMs leave. Without XDA I don’t know if I’d still be using Android. But that doesn’t really help the average user.

  • SilentBob

    I think someone already said it but either:
    1) You have spent a huge amount of money buying your smartphone upfront and expect it to be relevant for a reasonable amount of time.
    2) You have signed your life away to a 24 month fairly high cost contract to get the phone, and again expect it to stay relevant for the life of that contract.

    Updates should be provided to keep your device current for at least 2 years. Granted, there may be lower end phones that no longer have the clout to run newer features, so restrictions may apply there. Also, I believe that once a phone is over a year old customers would even PAY for the latest & greatest O/S version.

  • AVFCChis

    As a consumer tied into a contract, the update issue is now one I consider right up their with price come renewal time. So if a network wants to keep my custom then yes they should puch updates as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    Not only is the speed an issue, but also the bloatwere they package into the updates. I’m with Orange, whoes customers were among the last to recive 2.2 on the Desire, and when it was rolled out to some the info coming from Orange was very very poor as to when the rest would recive it. Not only that it is packaged with crappy apps I don’t want and can’t remove. Although Vodafone messed up massively with there pre 2.2 360 update they listened and shipped a clean 2.2.

  • Have to agree. If I sign an 18 month contract and get a modern smartphone like the Desire then I want to know that any *reasonable* updates will be made available for that device – if there’s no good reason why the Desire couldn’t receive xyz upgrade then within the 18 months i’m contracted to I would expect reasonable effort to be made to make that happen.

    Modern smart phones are expensive devices, they cost more than some laptops and are outdated much quicker – not just because of the hardware naturally progressing but because the software is moving rapidly and within 6 months your device is definitely not the new kid on the block, and by the 18 month contract end it’s desperately gagging for some help.

    This is one reason I’ve been buying HTC devices for a long while now – they *tend* to support their devices much better than the others for a longer period and then the XDA or similar communities push that device life even longer – my previous HTC Touch HD is still very usable thanks to the XDA community and the work done on Android, indeed if I can get an HTC device I am generally happier to sign a longer contract with my provider.

    I think that’s the key – this should be seen as a sale benefit. Support the device, keep it up to date with software, and justify that as a good reason to get in to a longer contract and update your phone hardware less often.

    How does providing these updates support the provider and the phone manufacturer business? easy, they don’t get my sale if they’re going to give me a device that’s outdated and nasty to use in 6 months time – or at least, they’ll get a max 6 month contract commitment and an expectation that it covers the cost of the phone. Support it for 18 months and i’ll sign up for 18 months. The longer contract period means that the provider can bundle more expensive phones, the more expensive phones mean that the manufacturers make more money and/or can invest in more support and better development – bottom line, treat phones as longer term investments and people will sign contracts that match those expectations.