Samsung Electronics Company may have to rethink its software update policy after Netherlands’ largest consumer protection lobby took it to court over failure to provide regular software updates across its range of Android smartphones.
The watchdog disclosed that it had held private talks with Samsung in order to resolve the impasse, but said that the discussions didn’t yield any fruit, forcing it to resort to a lawsuit.
The Consumentenbond wants the South Korean smartphone maker to introduce two-year updates of all Android devices, starting from the date of the sale of each device, rather than the date of the market launch. As such, all devices introduced by Samsung, irrespective of the year they were launched into the market that are still in sale should be provided with updates stretching two years, beginning today.
The agency noted that its own research showed that 82 percent of the Samsung mobile phones reviewed “had not been provided with the latest Android version in the two years after being introduced”. Despite finding other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) culpable of similar misdemeanors, it has opted to take on Samsung due to the fact that it holds a bigger market share in the country estimated at 80 percent.
The Consumentenbond also accused Samsung of dishonest trade practices, charging that the firm fails to state how long smartphone users should look forward to receiving software updates. Moreover, it also blames Samsung for its vague approach towards significant security updates, including one to combat the “Stagefright” malware.
While the accusations are somewhat valid, Samsung Electronics Company has sent regular software updates for fixing Stagefright bugs to its Galaxy S6 range of smartphones. However, the smartphone maker has remained mum on when it will address Stagefright patches for its entry-level and mid-range phones. Moreover, Samsung is yet to release any device that runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, yet three months have passed since the OS was officially released.
Since most smartphone makers rarely issue regular Android software updates, what the Consumentenbond wants is to compel other OEMs to include software updates in their device warranties. Warranty for smartphones runs two years in the European Union.
However, most industry analysts expect the implementation of timely software updates policy to pose a lot of headache to smartphone manufacturers. This is due to the fact that they would be forced to roll out regular software updates for around four years for each smartphone, if the average shelf-life for most devices is taken into consideration.
If the court rules in the Consumentenbond’s favor, Samsung may be forced to commit more resources into its development team. It may also force the company to release fewer phones into the market at a higher cost or shoulder the weight of providing low-cost mobile phones with perpetual support.