AT&T CEO knocks Google for slow Android smartphone updates

By on May 9, 2012, 12:00 PM

Who do you blame for not updating your Android smartphone in a timely manner? Well if you are AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and someone asks you that question, you point the finger directly at Google.

Stephenson was at a panel discussion recently held by the Milken Institute when an audience member asked why it took so long to get updates for Android through some manufacturer’s hardware and if there was anything that could be done to speed up the process. The CEO replied by saying that there was indeed an issue and that Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when.

He said that it’s a negotiated arrangement and it’s something that his company works at hard. Stephenson further followed up his answer by praising Windows Phone and iOS but said that Android has “got some work to do” particularly as it relates to security.

This quote caught Google’s attention which prompted the search giant to issue the following statement to 9to5Google:

“Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.  Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.”

Computerworld further highlights that it’s actually the manufacturer and carriers that typically delay update rollouts due to tweaking and modifying the software. At this point, it takes even more time for the carriers to perform tests and tweaks of their own.

User Comments: 12

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CrisisDog said:

Mmmm, my T-Mobile Vibrant hasn't ever gotten the Gingerbread 2.3 update. The Galaxy S Captivate on AT&T (same phone, different name) got the update. I blame T-Mobile...

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

It's a disaster from the user's point of view... either be stuck on some old version while other more popular phones receive the updates, or try to hack your way around it which ultimately results in more complication than it should.

Manufacturers understandably have to test updates before making them widely available, unfortunately what we've seen so far with Android 4.0 is weeks and months of waiting. On the carrier side, it's more like adding insult to injury as I have to assume most "testing" is based on their bloatware playing nice with the new OS versions.

veLa veLa said:

My Galaxy S2 still doesn't have ICS and I blame AT&T for it

Scshadow said:

I don't like the current situation. Google creates the OS and then the hardware manufacturers has to custom tailor it for their hardware and then the carriers can't resist putting their own touches on it too. I'm not blaming google but I'd like to see google really attempting to deal with the issues but I'm not sure what can be expected reasonably.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

I would say Google and the Manufacturers share the blame.

Sure, carriers usually install some extra "experience-enhancing" customization crap to the phones but I would blame that to the Manufacturers who let carriers do that sleazy sh*t.

But even if you get a stock Android phone it would probably also not get the latest updates and that's why I blame Google because they have no control over the hardware and they have failed to set strict standards to the big manufacturers.

Sadly, that's why Carriers love Android they have open doors to customize it as they see fit.

d-rail said:

My AT&T Galaxy S2 runs ICS with 0 issues = SHOstock2. Don't wait for AT&T.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I blame Google 100%. Period.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The way I see it, AT&T is the last company that should be telling another about being slow. :/

Luurch said:

Wow, i wonder if google has a contract with at&t, ceo is just jealous cause google has a better workplace then att does...bummer their service is so much better then sprint here otherwise i would drop them like a week old chili fart....

Hasbean said:

Well, i guess i'm a little more synical. Why would the phone manufacturers and telcos push updates, when we'll get so sick of waiting, we go out and buy a new one with the latest driod! A good way to make sure you buy more and more often?


at&t ceo needs to knock at&t for terrible tech support... -_-

Jibberish18 said:

And this is why, if I were to get any phone it would probably be Google's own Galaxy Nexus. Technically old and inferior hardware? Yes. Always the first to get updates until even the next of Google's operating system? Yes. Sorry but I don't like screwing around with rooting and roms. Just give me something that's up to date and that works.

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