Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant Gets Android 2.2 Upgrade

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-01-23

Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant Gets Android 2.2 Upgrade

Samsung Mobile has weathered withering criticism for being slow to pushing Android 2.2 upgrades to its handful of popular Galaxy S devices, which have sold more than 10 million units.

T-Mobile customers at least have begun to get a reprieve from this delay, as Samsung confirmed Jan. 21 it has started rolling out the Android 2.2 upgrade for the Galaxy S Vibrant smartphone. Getting here has been a long road.

Rumors surfaced in October that the Android 2.2, or Froyo, upgrade would be coming to the Android 2.1-based Samsung Fascinate on Verizon Wireless, Captivate on AT&T, Epic 4G on Sprint and the Vibrant.

But while Motorola and HTC upgraded their Android 2.1 handsets to Android 2.2, Samsung failed to deliver the over-the-air provision of the new OS for its handsets in the United States.

Samsung was cagey about the Froyo delays. Tensions boiled over Jan. 12 when AndroidSpin cited an alleged T-Mobile source who claimed Samsung was withholding the Froyo bump.

"Samsung has NOT allowed us to push the update OTA for 2.2 because they feel it will decrease the value of the upcoming Vibrant 4G," the source said.

While the blogosphere blew up with the news, a Samsung Galaxy S customer filed a class-action lawsuit versus T-Mobile and Samsung over the matter, alleging that Samsung wanted to charge existing customers for software updates.

Samsung flatly denied this allegation in a statement to eWEEK:

"Samsung does not charge carriers for updates to new versions of Android," the spokesperson said. "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."

T-Mobile executives convened in New York Jan. 20, and while there was no talk of the Samsung Vibrant 4G that is allegedly responsible for the Android 2.2 delay, they did unveil the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.

At the event, T-Mobile CMO Cole Brodman told PC Magazine that the Froyo delay was technical in nature and that the upgrade would begin rolling out Friday, Jan. 21, to Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant customers.

T-Mobile Faced Tech Issues with Android 2.2 Bump


T-Mobile late Friday night confirmed the upgrade is rolling out to Vibrant users over the next few weeks. Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T haven't yet said when they would upgrade their Galaxy S phones to Android 2.2.

So what of the rumor that T-Mobile was withholding the upgrade to better position the Vibrant 4G, which the company has not confirmed?

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told eWEEK that Google has set consumer expectations for regular software upgrades to their existing installed bases, making it extremely unlikely that any vendor would deliberately withhold updates. To do so, would sacrifice competitive advantages.

"Even if you subscribe to conspiracy theories, this one doesn't make sense from a timing perspective," Greengart explained.

"The Vibrant came out less than six months ago, and most consumers are on two-year contracts. Few Vibrant customers are going to buy a Vibrant 4G-or any other phone-for the next 18 months to two years."

However, industry analyst Jack Gold told eWEEK that it is not uncommon for vendors to be hesitant to offer software upgrades so as not to impede sales of new hardware. This wasn't necessarily bad acting by the vendors and carriers, but a concern with incompatibilities of the hardware with the new OS versions.

But hardware incompatibility is not the case for the delays with the Galaxy S handsets. Software customization is. Brodman told PC Magazine that "the biggest challenge is integration and customization."

Gold agreed that Samsung shouldn't rush out updates that may break a phone. Most manufacturers, for better or worse, customize the Android base, so simply pushing out a new version of the OS is not really practical until they convert the customized stuff to run on it.

"That said, it shouldn't be that difficult, or take very long to migrate their secret sauce," Gold added. "I don't know if the conjecture that Samsung is impeding upgrades is fact or not. On the one hand, it wouldn't surprise me. On the other hand, it would certainly not be the best course of action on their part."


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