The Problem With Android Updates, Again (Or: Why Samsung Galaxy Phones Are Stuck in the Past?)

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, aka Froyo. It has not arrived! A purported insider explains why. Short version: Money. Updated.

Update: Samsung's official response:

"Samsung does not charge carriers for updates to new versions of Android.

We are working to make the Android 2.2/Froyo upgrade available to all U.S. Galaxy S owners as soon as possible. Due to the complexity and unique functionality of each Galaxy S device, we are performing additional testing. Samsung feels it is important to make the Android 2.2/Froyo upgrade available only after we feel that we can give the millions of U.S. Galaxy S owners a simple and reliable upgrade experience."

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, and "requires carriers to pay a per device update fee for each incremental Android update." (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 U.S. 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."

It's worth noting the definite facts at hand: Samsung's international Galaxy phones have been updated to 2.2—it's just the US ones that are stuck on 2.1. And Samsung been resoundingly opaque on when the updates are coming.

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 may be, one thing's certainly true: The update to Android 2.2 hasn't arrived for Samsung phones, even though it has for others, 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 via Lifehacker]