Carrier Free Phone Updates are a MUST

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Smart phone owners, I believe that it is high time we take the need for firmware updates out of the hands of the carriers. At the very least there should be some sort of written minimum guarantee when you purchase your phone.

Nearly two years ago, I purchased my Android phone: the HTC Evo Shift on Sprint. Now, I know what many of you have to say about Sprint, but I’m not checking my data cap every ten minutes and I regularly use over 2.5GB of bandwidth, so the service pays for itself. The phone was supposed to be the next chapter in the highly successful Evo product line. But it was destined to fail. Mediocre sales mean the phone saw one update, from FroYo to Gingerbread, then one minor service update.

During my time with Android, I purchased the HTC Arrive, a Sprint Windows Phone 7 device. It has received one update, the Mango 7.5 update, which Microsoft somehow made sure was released to every phone. The subsequent Tango update? Nowhere to be found. The forthcoming Apollo update? fat chance! Sprint officially “end of life’d” the phone.

The iPhone is easier to update because it is not so much a phone or a model, an operating system with iterative hardware. Although it is true that Android has seen Platform fragmentation, and iOS eventually will, Windows Phone 7 was a small enough environment that the updates should have been easy. But alas, silence for my Arrive.

I believe Apple has the best handle on their fragmentation, and being the manufacturer, they have the obligation to support their device. I just hope that the other mobile OS developers take a page from Apple’s book on this one and learn to centrally manage firmware upgrades. There must be an easier way! And even if there isn’t, then every phone yogurt buy should have a minimum of two major upgrade revisions. You should sign an agreement that the phone will be supported at least beyond the box it came in, unless perhaps you intentionally buy a bargain phone! I am hoping Windows Phone 8 relies on the old Windows Update model.

You can tell me that every phone’s hardware is just too different for centralized updates to work. But nothing on earth is more widely varied or open to the creator’s wills than the desktop PC market, yet Windows Update has been working pretty reliably for Microsoft since 1998. If they can make universal updates for a literally limitless combination of hardware components, it ought to be pretty easy to send out a few updates to some simple phones!

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