Are US carriers to blame for the Galaxy S Froyo delays?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| January 18, 2011

It has only been a few days since we last heard of the Samsung Galaxy S debacle, and it seems we were overdue for some more rumors. This time around, the source is coming from an anonymous Samsung employee who wants to bring a new perspective to light. Not only is Samsung to blame for our Froyo-less Galaxy S devices, apparently so are the US carriers, but for good reason.

The.Samsung.Secret in XDA's forums shed some light on back-end agreements for Android updates with carriers, claiming that there are three different tiers explained in the manufacturer's contract with said carriers: critical, maintenance, and feature updates.

  • Critical updates fix high-priority bugs, free of charge to the carrier
  • Maintenance updates fix tiny glitches reported by the carrier and improve overall performance, will cost the carrier some money, but not a lot in comparison
  • Feature updates add new features to devices that weren't present in previous builds of software (Adobe Flash 10.1, installing apps on SD card, etc.), a pay-per-device update fee is charged to the carrier.

These claims could be entirely false; there is no evidence or proof of any of it, but it could also explain some things. For instance, how the Vibrant 4G may be coming by the end of February already running a skinned version of Android 2.3. Just for good measure though, we'll take them with a grain of salt. What we do know is that this has been floating around for four days and nobody has stepped in to debunk it. Of course, that could be due to the NDA that the source mentions.

In short, Mr. Anon claims that Samsung is charging the Froyo update as a feature update and US carriers are refusing to cash out for the pay-per-device fee. So why would the carriers refuse this having already met an agreement in the contract? For one, he states that other manufacturers like HTC and Motorola (I'm not sure how he would know this) considered Froyo a maintenance update, which saves the carrier a considerable amount of money. The source also goes on to say that:

“...U.S. Carriers aren't very happy with Samsung’s decision to charge for Android updates as feature updates, especially since they are essentially charging for the Android Open Source Project’s efforts, and the effort on Samsung’s end is rather minimal,” and, "Carriers almost never want to incur the cost of a feature update because it is of little benefit to them, adds little to the device, and involves a lot of testing on the carrier end."

I'm not sure of the validity of these statements, but I definitely understand what he's saying. And I would have to take the carrier's side on this portion if these rumors hold true. If all of the other major manufacturers are counting the updates as maintenance, Samsung should be, too. There is nothing included in TouchWiz that makes it any more valuable than Sense UI, MOTOBLUR, or Vanilla Android. If, by chance, these claims do turn up to be true, Samsung has only seen the beginning of this storm they've created for themselves.

Everyone else has been riding the Froyo wave for some time now, while Samsung keeps promising the update. While these delays may partially be the carriers' fault, I'm almost certain the majority would be behind them in their reasoning. The rest likely don't care, they just want their Froyo and they want it now.

Samsung's reputation has already taken quite the blow recently and charging extra for something other manufacturers are offering for much less isn't going to help the situation. It will certainly damage their reputation with customers as well as carriers. Regardless of this stalemate, Froyo for Galaxy S devices in the US should have already been out months ago. If this is actually the cause of the delay with your Galaxy S updates, who do you stand behind, your carrier or Samsung? Should carriers be taking the blame or should ol' Sammy?

Image via DigitalTrends