updated 07:50 am EDT, Fri May 28, 2010
Samsung says Behold II can't go past Android 1.6
Samsung triggered a furor among owners of the Behold II with a statement that it won't upgrade the phone beyond Android 1.6. The company said the T-Mobile smartphone would move to 1.6 soon and add features like Swype's keyboard, but claimed that the phone was "not upgradeable" to 2.0 or later. It came despite T-Mobile representatives and even a Samsung promo video mentioning upgrades in the past.
The decision not to upgrade further has left some owners signing a petition and others either boycotting future Samsung phones or demanding refunds for the devices they bought. All of these have contended that they were misled into buying the Behold II when Samsung had no intention of supporting the phone significantly past launch.
"The Behold II is upgradeable beyond 1.6, but [Samsung] won't develop for it any further," one forum poster wrote. "Fail on Samsung, never again will I buy from your company, and I will point this phone's debacle to anyone even considering a Samsung product."
Samsung has so far been hesitant to support its small Android phone line significantly past whichever build of the Google OS shipped with the phone. While it has said it would upgrade the Galaxy Spica to Android 2.1, the original Galaxy has remained on Android 1.5 while Samsung has said it would never upgrade the core OS version, locking the year-old phone out of Google Maps Navigation and other features that are taken for granted in newer devices.
The uproar highlights the fragmentation of the Android platform as a major obstacle to its long-term success. While the many different hardware configurations and custom interfaces are touted as important advantages, they have also prevented many phones from getting timely upgrades, if any at all. Special interfaces like those from HTC, Motorola and Samsung have been particular problems as they have prevented quick upgrades where stock phones, like the Droid or Nexus One, have upgraded faster. Apple in contrast can guarantee that all non-jailbroken iPhones can upgrade at the same time and will only start invalidating devices this year as hardware requirements make iPhone 4.0 impractical for the very earliest handsets.
Google is already believed to be addressing fragmentation with some parts of Android 2.2 but will only more fully address it through Android 3.0, where core apps will get updates without needing completely new firmware.