They announced today the hugely popular Galaxy S line of Android phones will NOT be getting the latest Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. Samsung only sold around 10 million of those phones last year. One year and your phone is already software out of date! It’s outrageous. The excuse is that the phones are not powerful enough to run the new OS. Not powerful enough actually to run the OS and Samsung’s user interface layer they put on top of Android.
This is going to be a huge blow to Google and the Android OS. The ramifications will spread beyond the 10 million customers they just instantly pissed off to many future owners of Android. Who wants to buy a phone when there is no guarantee you can update the OS? Apple could pound this point home in it’s marketing. Every iPhone gets the same software update the moment Apple releases it. Apple only leaves behind phones that are more than 2 generations old. By that time, your two year contract is up and you are eligible for another discounted phone.
Here’s what’s worse; they risk loosing the tech community and influencers who have been hot on Android. These folks set the buzz around products and the buzz on Android is going to get pretty sour.
Google has not been able to control Android and this is the worst example to date. There was supposed to be a rule that all Android phones would be updated to the newest OS within 18 months. Samsung just threw that rule right out the window. Google is going to have to do something to these vendors to bring them in line. These are the perils of an open system. It sounds so great in theory, but when you get down to the practical day to day it often causes more trouble. I don’t always like Apple’s maniacal control, but I do love that my iPhone works really well all the time and I can expect regular software updates until I am eligible to move to the next model.
This flakiness in updating OS software has been going on for awhile in the Android universe, but this could be the straw that breaks the camels back because the Galaxy S line have been the most popular Android phones ever. This could be the tipping point that really causes serious damage to Android. It will be very interesting to see how Google responds to this crisis.