Samsung’s Gettin’ Sued

January 20, 2011

This shouldn’t surprise Samsung Smartphone users, as Samsung is near famous (infamous) for being slow to upgrade its devices, regardless of carrier or country. The company has always been slow to issue updates and fixes for their devices after launch. In fact Samsung rarely provides more than one OS revision to each of their devices if any at all, placing them far behind HTC and Motorola on the Android side and just as far behind Apple who releases new iOS updates as necessary and rather quickly in many cases.

The delayed upgrade of Android 2.2 (Froyo), the operating system of Samsung Electronics’ smartphone Galaxy S, in the U.S. market has prompted American Galaxy S users using the U.S. wireless service provider T-Mobile to sue Samsung Electronics.

T-Mobile, ranked No. 4 in the U.S. wireless service market, began selling the Galaxy S under the U.S. brand name Vibrant in July last year.

Sources in the electronics industry Thursday said a member of XDA Forum, a gathering of Android and Windows mobile developers, expressed his willingness to final a class-action suit against Samsung by saying, “Samsung Electronics is intentionally delaying Froyo’s upgrade to promote the 4G Galaxy S set for release soon through T-Mobile.”

The member is known to have retained an attorney.

Samsung will release in this year’s first half in the U.S. a new smartphone for 4G long term evolution, or LTE, which is five times faster than the 3G wireless network.

After doing so in Europe in October last year, Samsung began upgrading Froyo in Korea in November but has yet to do the same in the U.S.

The company supplies the Galaxy S not only to T-Mobile but also to the top three U.S. mobile carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

Samsung said, “Specifications and functions of the Galaxy S shipped to the U.S. are different according to wireless service provider, so upgrades take time,” adding, “We have no intention to promote the 4G and will soon upgrade our products in the U.S.”

This is not the first time for Samsung to experience trouble due to the upgrade of Android. On Nov. 15 last year, the company began upgrading Froyo for the Galaxy S and Galaxy A, but confusion arose because the upgrade erased applications installed by users and personal data.

Samsung soothed users’ anger by fixing the problem on Nov. 26.

Industry sources say the upgrade might have been delayed due to disagreement with T-Mobile over cost. Unlike in Korea, where handset manufacturers foot the bill for mobile phone upgrades, communications companies and handset manufacturers share the cost in the U.S.

In addition, the structure of the Android application market is another factor that delays upgrades, according to experts. While Apple’s App Store is managed as a single application market, the Android market has diverse distribution channels such as Samsung Apps and T Store, making cooperation between Google and each manufacturer difficult.

An electronics industry source said, “Had Samsung used its own operating system, it could have minimized upgrade problems,” adding, “Samsung needs to strengthen its ability.”

Do you think Samsung deserves to be held legally accountable for allegedly delaying Android O/S updates? Chime in below.

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