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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Following up: Hardware vendors get elbowed aside

In my December 2009 post Hardware vendors get elbowed aside I said that hardware companies were “not up to the task” of software-laden devices like smartphones, and concluded with “I want even my television set to come from a software company.”

My current phone is a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is a “Google phone” with a big Google logo on it. Yet even it is running an outdated version of the operating system (4.0.1, not December’s 4.0.3 or March’s 4.0.4), because apparently it’s up to Samsung and not Google to update it, and Samsung clearly doesn’t consider that a matter of any urgency. (Or possibly it’s the carrier I bought it from. Same thing: it’s not the creator of the operating system.) I am incensed, and now would like that purchase of a software-heavy device to be my last from a vendor that is not a software company.

I was very pleased with Microsoft’s recent decision to introduce the Surface tablets, and am similarly pleased with Google’s announcement today of the Nexus 7 tablet. Apple gets the credit for forcing this.

UPDATE: I'm getting the impression that the Galaxy Nexus problem is ultimately caused by Google's not having a build of Android that is suitable for Canada, forcing Samsung to create one – without being forced to keep it up to date. If the phone had come from Google and not Samsung, Google would have been forced to support Canada (or not sell the phone in Canada, which seems unlikely) and my phone would be up to date.

UPDATE 2: Article One line of HTML can wipe or reset Samsung smartphones gives an example of where a hardware manufacturer adds a software feature that brings security problems. Software companies make such mistakes too, but much less often since software is their core competency.

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