Oct 11 AT 10:56 AM Taylor Wimberly 39 Comments

MOTOFAIL? 6 of 7 new phones will ship with old Android OS

Last week at CTIA in San Francisco, Motorola announced seven new smartphones for the U.S., but only a single one (Droid Pro) was running the latest Android 2.2. Motorola doesn’t exactly have the best track record with providing software updates for their mid-level Android phones (just ask any CLIQ, Backflip, or Devour owner), so I was extremely disappointed to see a wave of new devices that will ship with an outdated OS.

So what is the reasoning behind shipping six phones with the older Android 2.1 when they could have used 2.2?

I asked several Motorola executives last week and tried to get a clear answer, but all I heard was the usual response of them wanting to provide the “best combined hardware and software experience” for the end user.

With all due respect Motorola, that answer is a bunch of BS. We know that you have Android 2.2 running on multiple phones (Droid, Droid 2, Droid X) and we know that Android 2.2 can run on the lowest of devices (LG Optimus), so why would you keep it off the majority of your new launches?

When friends ask me what Android phone they should purchase, I always tell them to buy whatever is the best available device on their carrier running the latest version of Android. Despite what some carriers say, there will be many Android phones left behind which will never receive new Android firmware updates. For this very reason, I will not be suggesting any of the six phones that Motorola announced which will ship with Android 2.1 (Bravo, Citrus, Defy, Flipout, Flipside, and Spice).

If you think I’m being a little too harsh, check out PCMag’s interview with the Andy Rubin, the founder of Android. Rubin says that customers who purchase phones with older versions of Android are starting out with a disadvantage and over time he hopes the OEMs will realize this and adjust their strategies.

“The OEMs who don’t want to do the work to adopt the latest release are just going to see the impact on what consumers want. We’re actually in the middle of an interesting time because we’re actually seeing whether consumers recognize the value of each one of these releases. So far it looks like they do. So I think OEMs will adjust their strategies and their time to market for these new releases accordingly. There’s no advantage to the OEM of using an older version, and I’d say there’s a consumer disadvantage.”Andy RubinFather of Android

What do you think about Motorola’s decision to ship so many new phones with an outdated Android OS? Are they really doing it to provide their customers with the “best experience” or are they just plain lazy? I’m sure there is some logical reasoning behind their decision, but I honestly don’t get it yet.

Bonus video: Here is my quick run-down of the six Motorola phones shipping with Android 2.1.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Todd

    Fear of Froyo’s DNLA support as well as sharing wifi for six other devices

    Fear of pissing off Verizon

    Reminder Moto makes all the set-top boxes for TVs

  • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

    It’s like they tried to warn us about the phones by giving them all silly names.

    • http://Website SquirrelWithAGunAtTheZoo

      Except for the Bravo… They stole that name from HTC (I believe it was the original Desire’s codename).

  • http://Website Darkseider

    I agree. New devices, especially now, should be shipping with 2.2 installed. I could see this happening last June when 2.2 was just released and there wasn’t enough time for thorough testing but there should be no excuse by any manufacturer at this point to ship an Android device without 2.2 installed. A perfect example of Moto’s BS claim of software and hardware experience blather being just a lame excuse for laziness and stupidity the Eris and the G1. Both of which rooted and running CM 6.0 run better than anything they have had on them prior. Moto Fails.. again.

    • http://Website SI

      The G1 and myTouch not being updated after 1.6 is legit…

      Those device DO NOT have the ability to run anything higher than 1.6 without severe partitioning of the file system which is something that is just not possible with an OTA. Anything higher than 1.6 would legitimately not have a good user experience for the end user without seriously taking out a good majority of the OS.

      • http://swagbucks.com/refer/mastermind777 mastermind777

        Only the Dream’s SPL is too small to fit anything above 1.6 Donut. The Magic has enough room to run most of the full Froyo experience.

        In other words, you only have to install DeathSPL on the Dream, since its system partition is too small, and you’d need to allocate some of /cache and /data to /system

      • http://Website GE918

        SI, you are misinformed. The MY-Touch 3g is being upgraded with a OTA as I type.

  • http://forceclose.com Chahk

    Motorola just doesn’t get it. First locking the bootloaders, and now intentionally shipping old OS versions to force their customers to buy new hardware every 6 months. Now we know why Moto’s handset division almost went belly-up 2 years ago.

    • http://Website LjNj_RC51

      Preach on!!!

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/anakin78z anakin78z

    Motorola is in a unique position of making some of the best and worst phones at the same time. Check out this poll on AndroidGuys:

    High end Motorola phones are all in the top 10 (and all of them have 2.2). However, all the low end moto phones are in the bottom 6! I think it’s pretty clear that people dislike these cheap motoblur phones. Chances are that they sell pretty well, but that doesn’t translate into user satisfaction. I’m guessing that the people who buy those cheap phones eventually move on to htc or Samsung phones (even though Samsung is also pretty lame as far as upgrades).

  • http://Website Andrew

    Being a current Cliq owner this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Anyone buying these new models who thinks they’re going to be upgraded to 2.2 later can borrow my MOTOSUCKER stamp for their foreheads.

  • http://droidandroidgames.com/ AndroidGames

    Hello to android fragmentation,
    Really, just be glad it’s not 1.6 like dell streak.
    I hope if fragmentation will persist Google will need to release new phone/tablet each year so that manufacturers will try harder to keep up, like they did after Nexus One.

  • http://twitter.com/motoFAIL_BR @motoFAIL_BR

    @motofail is a very disrespectful company. Here in Brazil they said tha they were going to update the Android 1.5 Phones and then, well, I think you guys know that we got the “best combined hardware and software experience”. But c’mon we’re talking about the Android 1.5! And we all know tht the same models in the US are going to receive the 2.1 ( why not 2.2?). The G1 can receive the 2.2 (alternative ROM). I think that even the 1GHz phones from #motofail maybe won’t receive any further updates. That’s how #motofail is, ask if they answered any e-mail, tweet or facebook msg. Of course they didn’t, why would they? E-mail, tweets n facebook was not made to interact with the consumer, right? After creating this campaign, here in Brazil, the least I can do is make pple aware of what #motofail does, how they treat their customers.

    As they’re launching some new devices now, I think that they used their time to take care of the new one and just said “go f*&% yourself” to all the customers that previously bought a Android from them. (yes, we’re getting Froyo for Milestone/Droid but just cuz of the campaign, cuz they were not going to do so otherwise.). As I wanted a Android Phone n didn’t have much money and I bought one of the 1.5 phones, but like many pple, it was just because #motofail previously released the update schedule saying tht they’re going to upgrade! Well, I sold it and with the money + US$100 (to you understand how expensive, actually overtaxed, phones are here in Brazil) I bought a Samsung Captivate at eBay and a friend of mine will bring it to Brazil. But at least that was a great deal! I couldn’t imagine that I could get a Galaxy S! Because I only bought a 1.5 Phone because other superior phones cost something near US$1000 here and I dun have all that money, actually I didn’t have money for the 1.5 either, but I bought it because I got a BIG discount. Anyway, this was my first and my last #motofail phone, never again!

  • http://none Pomys

    They release the phones with 2.1 cause Moto is lazy, that’s for sure! Once again Motofail, ByeByeMoto!!

  • http://Website Daniel Calzada

    Motorola is digging his own hole, That company left the Latin America market out of the upgrade plans for some of the first android devices they offered here, We are pushing new customers looking for a first Android experience in LATAM to look other alternatives like Samsung, so please, do not consider to buy phones for a company that does not care about its customers


  • http://www.bigroom.org/wordpress Epicanis

    “MOTOBLUR™”, despite Motorola Mobile Corporation now trying to downplay it, strikes me as a likely problem here. It’s Motorola’s trick for sending your data through their servers, under the guise of providing a consistent “user experience”. Well, that and the fossilized 1980′s corporate culture. Seriously, that exact “best combined hardware and software experience” parrot-phrase was obviously cooked up at some marketing meeting and drilled into Motorola Mobile employees heads, as I’ve seen it in Motorola’s support forums as well. Much like the excuse of “optimizing the user experience” trotted out to excuse the continuing mysterious delays on the very last day of Q2 2010, when they had been promising 2.1 would be out by then.

    Anybody want to send the Motorola Mobile corporation management copies of the “Cluetrain Manifesto”? They could sure use it. Sadly, I suspect they’d just dump the copies on underlings with instructions to read it, so they can get back to their marketing meetings.

    As long as Motorola still firmly believes these phones belong to them and not the people who buy them, this will be a continuing problem. Motorola Mobile believes you’re buying a “user experience” rather than a phone, and unfortunately the fact that the “user experience” is “optimized” for Motorola’s convenience rather than their customers’, we’ll likely continue to see outdated MOTOBLUR™-encumbered environments and anti-use features like the firmware lockdowns.

    Honestly, I think the only reason Verizon phone purchasers are getting current Android versions is Motorola’s desperation to get enough of a customer base locked in before Verizon gets an iPhone® that they have to compete with.

    (As a victim of the “CLIQ™ with MOTOBLUR™” [but without geolocation of photos, WPA2 Enterprise support, or any other post-Android-1.5 features], yes, I’m kinda bitter. Not likely to ever buy another Motorola product without seeing a dramatic change in their anti-customer attitude.)

    • http://Website anon

      Yeah, it seems that all those 2.1 phones are with the full blown MOTOBLUR.

  • http://Website Sined

    State of Android in US:

    State of Android in Canada:

    If Moto gets pushed by the carrier (i.e. Verizon) updates come out “relatively” quickly. When the carrier doesn’t pester them for updates Moto is happy to just sit back and do nothing.

  • http://Website gem

    HTC…… need I say more?

    • http://Website LjNj_RC51

      So true… and what the hell is that BLUR stuff. Forget about it!

  • http://Website Bob

    Sorry but this is a big Fail for Moto. Most Android users want manufacturers to keep Android OS updated with the latest OS versions. I’d rather have the stock UI of Android with quicker OS updates than a nice fancy UI with slow or skipped OS updates. Moto releasing phones with an old Android OS off the boat is just not acceptable especially since it’s fairly given that they will not be releasing an update to these phones.

    Why do handset manufacturers all make the same mistake with tinkering around with the Android UI!?! Just really don’t understand, I agree the Android UI is quite bad compared to Sense UI, TouchWiz etc but it is only a matter of time before Google get their act together and update the stock Android UI (I’m hoping this will be in Gingerbread).

  • http://Website Andrew

    Motorola doesn’t care about the end customer experience. Every phone they have ever made has been pure crap. The only companies that actually gives a crap about the consumer is HTC, and dare I say it, Apple. Until Motorola wakes up and realizes that customers want a phone that isn’t going to be outdated in a hour, they aren’t going to be successful.

  • http://Website Kimbo

    My Cliq is still running Android 1.5, with no updates in sight. Never again will I own a Motorola phone.

  • t1h5ta3

    motorola and samsung are in the same boat as far as im concernd. both lie to consumers. both fail to uphold licensing agreements. both lock down devices after filling them with bloatware.

    its no wonder HTC has gone from being a nobody unheard of newcomer to the industry leader in just a couple of years.

    as cheeep as memory and hardware is, there realy is no good reason to not pack a phone with ample memory. lack of memory is one of the bigest issues most phones have.

    • chris0101

      Samsung doesn’t lock down its phones – it just sucks at doing updates.

      Motorola IMHO is the worse manufacturer of the two. They lock down their phones and seem to suck at doing updates, especially outside of the US.

      Not to mention, the specs of the Samsung phones are usually better than what Motorola offers.

  • enigma350

    Honestly, I don’t think it makes a big difference. The phone does everything they advertise it to at launch. As long as they continue to push out bug fixes then what is the problem? How many “feature phones” or “multimedia phones” do you know of that have OS updates? Even a large number of Windows Mobile phones did not receive updates to the latest and greatest (6.1 to 6.5). I understand people complaining about having Android 1.5 or 1.6 and not being able to upgrade to 2.1 or 2.2, because those were still considered “young” versions of Android, but in all honesty 2.2 is not a great deal better than 2.1. That’s why the Galaxy S line of phones are still great phones, even though they currently only have 2.1.

  • http://Website Hick

    Another issue that no one is bringing up is that Google has specifications that all hardware must meet in order to run Android. However, Google is allowing companies like Moto, to bypass those standards. Example is the upcoming Citrus. Moto website states that the phone will not have vibra call alert. That is a basic feature requirement of Android. But, the phone will ship without it anyway.

    Also, It is understandable that an upgrade in OS cannot happen if the hardware cannot support the software….example: mobile wifi hot spot in Droid X; Droid and Droid 2 do not have the capability to run that feature. However, OS’s should be updateable in the same fashion as Windows and iOS. The update should not be solely based on hardware. If the hardware that the update is going to does not support that function, then that feature does not work……simple!

    Overall, the consumer is the last thing companies think about when trying to develop products and services. The first thing they think about is how will this impact US. The customer is viewed as an inconvience to companies to getting “their” money. Companies of all sizes and industries truely do not care about the consumer.

  • http://Website caabbyy

    screw motorola, htc ftw! as a current motofail customer I will never buy another phone from them again even if that’s all tht offers come upgrade time I will wait. htc should make a line like samsung did with the galaxy s and send a similiar phone to each carrier. that is the day I will be very proud of htc :)

  • http://Website D.J.

    I’ve said this forever. In America at least if you are buying a smartphone on contract not getting the best phone with the highest end specs and latest OS is dumb. Don’t be fooled by upfront prices even $150 difference between the high end and low end is nothing compared to the price of the data plan over two years (which will be the same no matter how crappy the phone is) or your overall happiness with the phone. These OEMs and carriers aren’t used to having a phone ecosystem they have to support and respect so the only way to ensure we get the same type of support that Apple gives to its iPhone is to vote with your dollars.

  • http://Website gad

    I’ve always said it,HTC phones are head over heals above them all.
    Design is excellent,interface is the best in the market,and OS updates are the most regular.Pls guys vote with your wallets.HTC phones are still the best. I just hope they come out with a tablet as well – that will be fantastic.
    My only gripe with their phones are lack of enough memory.They should provide phones with at least 1GIG of RAM so we can download enough apps. A lot of the apps still don’t install on the SD carrd

  • http://Website watbetch

    Android 2.1 or not I still like the DEFY.

    2.2 from 2.1 isn’t like a leap from 1.5 to 2.1. I know we should be striving for the latest on all new phone launches but I doubt the majority of the public will care about this difference. 1.5 Yes, 2.1 – nope.

  • krazytrixxxsta

    the only one that have froyo is going to verizon, which isnt surprising. moto only care about their verizon phones in the u.s. look at all their other android phone for the other carriers none of them has been updated pass 1.6. some of them are still on 1.5.

  • http://www.abunailee.narcthatcar.com EmeryLee

    I WANT MY 2.2oooooooooooo!!! Especially since I’m lock into a two year contract and can’t change my phone without bleeding me for more moolah. That’s cool we’ll see who I do business with next year after my contract is up.

  • http://Website djratchet

    Motorola can go screw themselves. After the crap I got with my Devour, Moto has lost a customer and HTC will be gaining a new one. Motorola can go off themselves, they’d be doing us a favor.

  • Uncemister

    Looks more like an AT&T thing to me. Every single one of their phones has the outdated os, at least verizon has updated devices

    • http://Website Cutsz01

      Well, sadly its not just an AT&T thing its also a T-Mobile thing (see Motorola Cliq) Motorola seems to have some sorry of favoritism to Verizon. Probably because they carry the most Motorola phones. But even Verizon has one blemish which would be the devour. So all in all Motorola is not doing their thing HTC is.

  • http://Website they

    Wasn’t there a problem with Droids not being able to update Firmware and it messed up customers phone. I remember reading about this on various boards. They’re probably taking their time, testing the updates to work out the bugs.

  • http://Website GR

    STOP locking down the phones.
    STOP welding in MotoBlur – make it a separate installable APP.
    STOP preventing Android updates on any phone.

    Power users want to be able to install whatever they want on their phones. We want fully UNLOCKED boot loaders.

    We want to be able to update to the latest version of Android as soon as it is released.

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