The week commencing 19th March 2012 was supposed to be a big week for millions of Samsung Galaxy S2 owners around the world. That was the week, according to Samsung, that the long awaited Android 4.0 Ice Cream update was supposed to arrive for their beloved smartphone.
True to their word, the w/c 19th March rolled around and Samsung delivered the ICS update; but only to a handful of users in a handful of countries. In the important UK market, only users on the Three network received the update, much to the bewilderment of unbranded Galaxy S2 owners, especially as Three is considered to be a poor cousin of the other major networks.
Most unbranded owners, many of whom are more tech-savvy than the average user, fully expected to be at the front of the queue in receiving the update; often a key reason for purchasing a phone at full retail price, rather than through a long contract. Unfortunately this is only where the story begins. Currently, we are three weeks on from the original release date and the grumblings on tech forums are growing somewhat more vociferous
While Samsung will probably not admit it, the general consensus is that the update was rushed out to certain markets which then went on to experience bugs and technical problems as a result of the update. While the odd bug is to be expected, it seems that users might have experienced one bug too many and Samsung took the decision to postpone the roll-out until they were ironed out.
What makes this update so important is that the Samsung Galaxy S2 is the top selling Android smartphone to have been produced so far. The Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S have been leapfrogging each other for months in terms of sales volumes and the phone is a hugely important phone, not only for Samsung, but for Android itself. What makes the situation worse is that Samsung have been eerily quiet about the delays to the ICS rollout.
That was until last week however. According to an exclusive CNET UK interview, Samsung explained that they had stalled the rollout to let some networks test the update to be sure the software will work on whatever network you are on. Unfortunately for SIM-free / unbranded owners, Samsung have also taken the decision to provide the update only once they have “…all of the operator pieces on board". While this may irk many unbranded owners, the consolation will be that at least when the update finally arrives, it should be in a complete and working form.
While Samsung is under no obligation to keep users updated as to their time-frames, and decisions, the Korean tech giant have held their hands up and admitted a lack of communication throughout the rollout process. Vice President of Samsung Telecommunications and Networks for Samsung UK, Simon Stanford, went as far as admitting: “The communication itself can be managed a bit better next time", going on to say “we work very closely on to try and make sure we get it absolutely bang on so we apologise to anyone — we really apologise to anyone — who has been disappointed by this".
Samsung has emerged as second only to Apple in the smartphone wars and let’s hope that in future their PR department takes such rollouts more seriously. In this age of social media, instant reporting, consumer awareness, tight handset release cycles and the cutthroat world that the manufacturers inhabit, there is no excuse for poor communication. While customer loyalty is being eroded in many areas of consumer society, there still exists a significant loyalty factor for smartphone owners and Samsung should take heed of this.
In the meantime, for the millions of Samsung Galaxy S2 owners, let’s hope Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t too far away.