Friday, January 21, 2011

Dumb Me

When we buy a computer or a smartphone, we get a hunk of metal and plastic that’s loaded with computer code, software.  We don’t own the software, we’re granted a license to use it with the hunk, hardware.

With computers we’ve become accustomed to operating system updates every now and again; and, then less often, a new operating system comes out – Windows Vista to Windows 7 or 8 or whatever it is now; Leopard to Snow Leopard if you have a Mac.  The companies let you operate the old operating systems for a relatively long time.  Indeed, XP, one of the most stable Microsoft products is still being sold for netbooks.  But over time, the old OS’s become dinosaurs.  They can’t cope with the new features that captivate our imaginations.

Most people have become used to the continual changes and delay updating their software.  Why?  The old version works just fine and the new version doesn’t offer much value added.  Until a point, and then you update.

Smart phones are a bit different – evolution is accelerated.  iOS 4 is a quantum leap from the software on the only a few years old original iPhone.  Android 1, a couple of years old, is laughable next to 1.5, 1.6, 2.1, 2.2 or 2.3.

Apple seems, as is often the case, to have a better way of managing expectations and sales.  Once a year, mid-year, there’s a new iPhone:  Similar, incrementally better, hardware with an improved OS.

Android, owned by Google, is much less controlling.  Android’s very business model is chaos.  It continually changes the operating system and offers it, free, to phone and tablet manufacturers telling them to do as they will with it.  And they do.  HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung take the update and overlay some proprietary stuff, then stuff it into an new hunk of hardware and market it to the carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Metro PC and so on.  But we aren’t done yet.  The carriers junk up the already junked up OS with their add-ons.

I have a T-Mobile  HTC My Touch Slide.  I could spend a couple of paragraphs bitching about HTC Sense and T-Mobile Faves.  But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll get to the title of the post.

Am I being unreasonable in being mad at HTC, the manufacturer, and T-Mobile, the carrier, for delaying OS updates?

Android techie blogs are full of posts and comments about whether manufacturers, carriers, or both, are screwing their customers by not providing OS updates for the phones they’ve sold on two year contracts, with the alleged purpose of selling newer phones with the newest OS installed.  Scroll back a week or so on Rather Than Working to see my contribution to the mass customer ire.

It is a truism that whatever electronic device you buy, whenever you buy it, is almost immediately out of date.

With smart phone advances moving so fast are manufacturers and carriers creating an angry customer base by announcing and promising updates and not delivering?  Yes, if I’m an example.

Should I really be mad?  Probably not.  There isn’t any way all of what’s flowing out of Google can be implemented and distributed to every phone out there on any kind of quick schedule.  I shouldn’t have bought into the false promise of continual, immediate updates to the newest and coolest features, especially when the promisors are in the business of selling new phones and new service while keeping current customers just this side of mad enough to switch carriers.

Dumb me.


Big Mark 243 said...

The technocrats are not too different from a drug pusher. You purchase the technlogy and then they 'hook you' with all the updates and features and before you know it, you are an addict.

It is scary thinking about detox, I bet. Could you live without this piece of technology that is a iphone? Or Droid... which ever is apropos...

Dave said...

In answer to your question Mark, yes, but they make me want to say no.

fermicat said...

I'm too new to my smart phone to give a crap about how often they update the software, but I am probably not their typical customer. People on the various user groups get pretty worked up about it. I read them occasionally to get an answer to a specific question when one comes up.