Motorola's Broken Upgrade Promise Gives Android a Bad Rap

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News Posted: Sun, Oct 7 2012 10:42 AM
It's no secret the biggest downside to Android is fragmentation, the dirty F-word that comes with the territory of playing in Google's open source playground. Fortunately for Android fans, Google's mobile platform has tremendous upside, but it doesn't help when handset makers highlight the negatives, as Motorola recently did by reneging on a promise to update all devices to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Here's what went down. Motorola earlier this year decided to join Google's Android Upgrade Alliance, an initiative unveiled at last year's Google I/O event in which the search giant said it would work closely with its partners to make sure that Android smartphones and tablets would continue to receive updates for at least 18 months after their release. If you bought a mobile device from one of the members, you knew you were covered for the next year-and-a-half, or so it was supposed to be that way.

Motorola Atrix
Motorola no longer plans to deliver Ice Cream Sandwich to the Atrix 4G.

Just recently, Motorola hit its customers with a bombshell, which was posted in the company's support forum.
Motorola Mobility continues to review how each device can deliver the very best experience possible, and at times, this can mean making tough choices – especially as it relates to Android software upgrades. Today, we need to let you know about some tough choices related to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades. Specifically, ATRIX 4G, Photon 4G and Electrify will not receive the ICS upgrade, but continue to be supported with maintenance releases to ensure optimum performance for the consumer.
We are committed to being more transparent than ever on our software upgrade strategy – even when we’re delivering news consumers may not want to hear. We are doing everything possible to continually improve our communication with you and make sure you are a satisfied customer. That’s why we recently announced our $100 rebate program for owners of these and other devices launched in 2011 and beyond that won’t get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This program starts in the U.S. this fall, and we are working to expand it to select regions around the world. Please watch for updates at motorola.com/tradeup.
As you can imagine, customers who purchased one of the affected devices didn't react well to the news. They're ticked that it appears Motorola joined the Android Upgrade Alliance to sell devices without worrying about the ramifications of prematurely dropping support.

"I recently bought an Atrix just because the official website was telling me that it will soon receive ICS...," a Motorola forum member lamented. "I'll never buy another Moto product as long as I live," another chimed in.

Do you own of the affected Motorola devices? If so, how do you feel about Motorola's decision and $100 apologetic rebate?
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lets say you bought a photon 4g and was led to believe that it would get an update to some new version of android. Now you have to look who sold you the phone. If you got the phone from a carrier in this case sprint, then you have to look at what your contract states about updates to your phone even if you paid full retail price for the device. We also have to remember that at times a maker may have an update available for a device but now the carrier has decided that they dont want that update because they would rather sell you at full retail value a new phone because most contracts are 24 months long. Now even if you took into account the 18 month so called pledge then that leaves 6 months for you to wait for a new phone on sprint which sold the photon 4g. And sprint does not really like to upgrade people early... maybe within two weeks or so but not 6 months. Sprint makes money if they make you purchase it at full retail price. And then do you think that moto will really say that sprint blocked the update? then they may lose sprint business as moto does not usually sell directly to the consumer unless its a unlocked device. Now google may be opening up a nexus certified device program that any maker can be part of. and that google will handle all device updates from their end. However cdma users be dammed because of how long cdma providers take to certify a new firmware... cdma gallery nexus took about 4 months almost to get to verizon...

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I dont know how it is in the states, but in Canada, a provider makes almost no money when selling a device outright. On a high end device it is about 50-100 (depending on model). I honestly believe motorola is heading into the right direction with their new devices, but this update stuff worries me, especially because of the way moto locks down phones as far as rooting and custom firmware goes.

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rapid1 replied on Sun, Oct 7 2012 8:10 PM

GOOGLE owns Motorola Mobility

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rapid1 replied on Sun, Oct 7 2012 8:11 PM

That means this is the largest load of BS I think I have ever heard as when you buy a company you have to honor all agreements whether they are past or future from a legal stance unless otherwise stated in paperwork signed by the end user.

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As an atrix user, this has disappointing indeed. Doubt I'll buy another moto device for awhile. Plus, they dont seem to want to put high-end phones out on at&t anymore. Is what it is I guess. I just hope they release the drivers to allow the developer community to fix their mess. It's a shame to since this would have been a killer phone with ics/jb. Oh well, I got my upgrade coming in jan/feb and there should alot to choose from by then.

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timaeus replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 10:39 AM

The $100 rebate is a joke. "If we don't upgrade your phone to Jelly Bean, we don't want you to miss out. Buy a select new Motorola smartphone, trade in your old phone, and we'll give you $100 back." It's not a rebate, they're just buying your old phone off you for $100. Odds are you could sell it for more on ebay.

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It seems android may be more at fault here. If you're a 'partner' and make a product, you're assuming that the next version of the software will support your product. As a hardware manufacturer you may not be able to anticipate what the next software features and bells and whistles will be. But if you are told you have 18 months of compatibility with any upgrades, you should expect that your hardware won't be obsolete overnight. At least Moto is trying to be upfront with it. We all know Google bought Moto for the patents anyway, so is it really surprising that their “Jonny come lately" designs and poor software transition are tanking the company? It's sad to see because I really liked the company and what they accomplished, but now they seem determined to go down in flames. Much like the lack of vision RIM experienced.

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lehjr replied on Sun, Oct 14 2012 11:53 PM

First of all, that whole thing with the $100 trade in was announced a month before these updates were silently cancelled and announced on an obscure thread on their forums late one Friday night. Second, Motorola doesn't even have the details of that $100 trade in ironed out. That's right folks. More than a month after the announcement, Motorola has yet to decide who will qualify for that $100 trade in. And the final insult, a couple months before this announcement, Motorola was doing a $200 trade in for the same devices under the "business-ready" label.

Now lets think about this whole $100 trade in thing for a moment. Doesn't the fact that it supposedly pertains to devices from 2011 seem a bit fishy given the fact that most people here in the USA buy their devices under a 2 year contract, and some as many as 3 outside the USA. I find it hard to believe that Motorola wouldn't have knowledge of this fact. And what about those that paid the full off contract price for the device? How does $100 sound to them?

Another thing about that $100, you can only use that towards a new Motorola device. AT&T only has 1 Motorola device, the Atrix HD. While the device has a marginally better camera. it has the same amount of RAM, but less storage and no lapdock feature at all. Despite not using the lapdock myself, I still consider the Atrix HD to be a downgrade. But what if your carrier no longer carries any Motorola devices? What if you actually get the Atrix HD and it doesn't meet the hardware requirements for the next version of Android? Another $100 insult?

And the worst part of this cancellation is that they were about 90% done with the release as proven by a leaked ROM. Unfortunately the ROM was only released as a compiled package without source. So while the kernel and libs can be extracted, the code to make them work is lost inside. The kernel itself needs some spit and polish (few less crossed "i"s and dotted "t"s), something easily done after the source is released, but sources aren't usually released unless the update itself is released.

And you know this whole thing about being more transparent? Yeah, he said that before they went into an information blackout for a week after we had already been waiting for 7 months since the original ICS announcement, 4 months after ICS was initially released just to tell us they were going to give us the update. After all that, they silently cancelled the update.

Since then Punit Soni has been pretty quiet, aside from selectively responding to posts, most either praising him for abandoning us, or those with Verizon devices.

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Bottom Line.. Definite boycott of Motorola devices. All the talk, analysis & commentary is BS. I'm voting with my wallet.

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Clixxer replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 3:16 PM

rapid1:

GOOGLE owns Motorola Mobility

They own them but have said many times that Google will not "run" them. Either way this gives google a bad rap since they are the owners but man this is the problem with Motorola. I have liked their phones but it just seems that the company entity just cant get its crap together. I would definitely think though if Google owned me then I would be working just as hard to make sure I could get the updates out quick.

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