Well, this is interesting. The Dutch Consumentenbond, the largest consumer protection advocacy agency in The Netherlands, today filed a lawsuit against Samsung demanding the company starts properly updating its Android phones. The Consumentenbond had been in talks with Samsung about this issue for a while now, but no positive outcome was reached, and as such, they saw no other option but to file suit.
The Consumentenbond is demanding that Samsung provides two years of updates for all its Android devices, with the two-year period starting not at the date of market introduction of the device, but at the date of sale. This means that devices introduced one or even more years ago that are still being sold should still get two years’ worth of updates starting today.
There’s actually an official English version of the press release (as a translator, I am genuinely surprised about that).
Bart CombÃ©e, director of the Consumentenbond: “On buying a Samsung Android device, consumers are given inadequate information about how long they will continue to receive software updates. The Consumentenbond is demanding that Samsung provide its customers with clear and unambiguous information about this. Samsung moreover provides insufficient information about critical security vulnerabilities, such as Stagefright, in its Android phones. Finally, the Consumentenbond is demanding that Samsung actually provide its smartphones with updates.”
The Consumentenbond’s own research has shown that 82% of the Samsung phones sold in The Netherlands did not get updates to the most recent version of Android in the two-year period, which leads to all kinds of security issues and other problems. While Samsung, which has a smartphone market share in The Netherlands of about 80% (yeah… Sorry about that), is the focus of this particular lawsuit, the Consumentenbond notes that other manufacturers are guilty of the same problems.
It will not come as a surprise to any of you that I sincerely applaud this effort. The Android update clusterfrick is by far the biggest problem in the Android world, and OEMs should be, if possible, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their negligent practices regarding updating their software. There is an extremely strong mandatory EU warranty policy on all products sold in the EU of at least two years, and Samsung and other Android OEMs are clearly failing to follow this law.
That being said, the minutiae of any possible outcome of this lawsuit are extremely crucial. Not only should Samsung and other OEMs be legally forced to release updates for their smartphones for at least two years (I would personally prefer three or four years, actually, but let’s start somewhere), the updates ought to be timely. Every Android smartphone should be updated to the latest version of Android for two years after sale of said smartphone, with each update being released no later than four weeks after code availability from Google.
If this means they have to spend more resources on their development team – so be it. If this means they can no longer sell outdated, crappy hardware because newer Android versions would be too slow – so be it. If this means they have to work more closely with Google to prepare for new releases – so be it. None of that should be the concern of any consumer.