By August 18, 2009

T-Mobile G1, updates and carrier responsibility

Sad G1

Word has been spreading around the internet today that T-Mobile’s first Android phone, The G1, will not receive any OS updates after Android 1.5. Whether this turns out to be true, or not, it got me thinking, what is a carrier’s responsibility to its customers?

When a service provider like T-Mobile convinces you to sign a 2 year contract in exchange for a heavy subsidy on a hot new phone, you enter into a two way agreement. You agree to pay them a lot of money every month for 24 months, and they give you a good price on a phone. I don’t think that can be the end of the story. The carriers expect you to carry the same phone around everyday for two years so they can recoup their costs, but in exchange they should have to support that device for the life of the contract.

The pace of mobile innovation is running at such a rapid pace that a phone may be actively sold in the shops for only  8 or 12 months before they are replaced by the next generation of mobile phone. Last October all the carriers in the US came out with carrier branded HTC Touch Pros, and now 10 months later they are preparing to release the Touch Pro2, and Apple’s iPhone is famous for coming out with a new version every summer. While Apple is kind enough to continue to offer software updates to customers with the older version of iPhone, I doubt if AT&T will offer any ROM updates for the Fuze after their Touch Pro 2 Variant is released in the next several weeks, these are of course not the only examples.

So you will have lots of customers who are understandably unwilling to pay five or six hundred dollars for a new phone in the middle of their contract; though most people reading Mobile Tech Addicts might be in the minority here. That is why this news from T-Mobile is so upsetting. They and the other network operators are essentially forcing people to live every day with an obsolete device for a year or more. It is about time that these companies realize that they are essentially married to a customer for two years, and a marriage can’t be successful if you ignore your spouse after the honeymoon is over. T-mobile and Google owe it to their customers to fully support the products they sell for at least the first two years after a device is first released to consumers.

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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