Would you pay a subscription fee for guaranteed Android software updates?

by XB on 29th July 2014

in Android, Featured Content, Firmware


android_studio_logo-300x300Some of the more consistent comments that we see on this site relate to “where is my firmware update?” For any manufacturer, working on Android updates is an economic decision. Newer handsets will always be supported first, sometimes leaving older handsets languishing on older firmware and Android builds.

Look at the Xperia C for example, it has only received two firmware updates since the handset launched. It is likely that most Xperia C owners would have reasonably expected better support, the handset hasn’t moved from its Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean build that it launched from.

The same applies to Xperia L owners who for some reason have not seen an update to Android 4.3, even though the lower-end Xperia M did see this update. Then you have the Xperia SP, which many thought would receive the Xperia 4.4 KitKat update, but there’s still no word on this and the omens don’t look good.

The consistent theme with all of the above is that no one has a clue whether another official update is coming and, if so, what the timing will be. As mentioned earlier, we can understand that with a large portfolio of handsets to support and limited resources, Sony is not giving ‘full’ support to some of the lower-end handsets that some expect should be there.

There is an expectation nowadays from prospective Sony Xperia owners that your handset will only be supported well if it is a flagship model However, we would still like to see much greater transparency from Sony on how long a particular handset will be supported for.

It did get us thinking though – if economics is the main reason why Sony isn’t supporting some of these handsets, what if it offered some kind of subscription fee to ensure you’re kept up to date on the latest Android builds? Is this something that you would consider paying for? Or, do you feel that once you’ve paid for the handset, the price of software support should be implicit in the cost of the handset? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Thanks Malih!

  • Ethan ‘blaze’ Parker

    I totally would, much better than going for an underpowered Nexus device or bare bones Google Play edition.

  • Nicholas

    I would, I have an Xperia A which was the flagship in Japan last summer. NTT Docomo has said that it will not get 4.4, it is stuck on 4.2.2 even though the Xperia ZR has 4.4. It’s frustrating because I want an Android wear device.

  • I’d expect to have “normal” firmware updates for free. However, I’d be willing to pay for major Android updates, that came out, say, 1 year after it’s release (or later), up to 20€. I’d rather pay per version than subscription based.

  • Senthil Kumaran

    we would prefer it ,after 2 year of free support period from the release

  • JRMoore

    That’s something I always though they could do but it’s a complicated issue to tackle in my opinion with lots of unknowns so to speak.

    The main problem is that upgrading a handset to a new version of the OS not only requires testing and QA phases (fixing or mitigating incompatibilities that may arise during the process), but also driver availability for the new OS to handle the hardware.

    That last point alone requires hardware manufacturers (not the ones of the device but its components, e.g. Qualcomm) to support older components in newer versions. Think for example about the change in the memory allocators in Android (i.e. NVMAP, PMEM, ION), that alone makes that using 4.4 for with newer kernels in older hardware drivers supporting only PMEM complicated (you’d need a “compatibility layer” of sorts written or you’d get screen flickering in some apps and the like).

    The subscription model may be complicated as well. From the point of view of a device manufacturer, at what point do you decide to stop the subscription for a device? Say… with 1000 or 10000 (for ex.) subscribers, do you keep pushing updates and going through certification (it’s not only QA but with Google things have to be certified) with all the costs that carries? Complicated from a business point of view.

    What I think would be interesting, if at all possible, would be to reach and agreement with component manufacturers (or whomever writes the drivers) to support a device for 2 years since release for example, or through 2 or 3 point releases (e.g. launches with 4.1.x, able to up 4.4.x). After that time, it’d be a community choice to keep updating the device. That’ll probably require a price increase, but (depending on it though) I think it’d be worthy.

    Or maybe instead of a subscription model or that implied upgrade path, paying for an upgrade to a newer release (e.g. Jelly Bean to Kit Kat)?
    In any case, if it were a subscription based model, or paying for a mayor upgrade I think I’d consider paying for it. As well as that extra to ensure updates for some time.

  • Gav

    I would definitely pay like most other software updates.

  • m sacha

    I would have thought that buying the phone is enough of a “subscription fee”

  • Mats John Carlo Mateo

    I would for a minimum coat, since you already bought the phone that should be supported. I would understand if manufacturer would ask for a fee, and the fee should be within reasonable price, like a $20 software additional support for a year plus older phones. And also since they we are paying the it should also be said that they should guarantee better phone experience.

  • Steve Blow JobZzZz

    you will get nothing and like it (c) Sony

  • Steve Blow JobZzZz

    Nope, not a dime. They can go fuck themselves, and I’ll just buy an iPhone and have my free updates for years, for free, and the moment they are released, and not months after.

  • Mats John Carlo Mateo

    Right on target, they should make rule that if a great number of users for an older phones should still have a free update, but you’re right it is a complex issue to tackle and an even difficult procedure to create.

  • Fynjy7771

    And if Apple would do the same?)

  • Gary Ohanian

    I wouldn’t. I’m happy with whatever they give me. I don’t think I’m entitled to later versions of the OS and I don’t have an issue with it. The only thing I expect is that bugs that stop the device functioning as intended are fixed.

    I would prefer that people stop pushing Sony to get the “latest” builds of Android, and focus on fixing bugs. I would say the majority of consumers wouldn’t know version of Android is installed. Most won’t care. They do care if the phone doesn’t work though (reboots, crashes, battery draining etc.) and it would stop them getting a new one of the same make.

    Considering a lot of the functionality can now be updated outside the firmware updates, I have no issues with slow firmware updates for the sake of being on the latest version.

  • W Fort

    Perhaps after two years free support. Those handsets are expensive, and deserve a decent software support ( both for bugs and version update

  • Sami Mrabet

    Nope

  • jin

    NO, just NO

  • mukul verma

    Then he will fuck himself. Hahaha.

  • Gowtam

    The price of software support is implicit in the cost of the handset, thats why i have paid 25k INR for XSP last year while its available for 15k INR now at the end of support.

    Always my choice for sony is for its support only, high specs and features given by others too.

    When a new Android version is released in my device support period obviously i would expect upgrade from sony, if no updates whats the advantage in buying sony others are give even more higher specs for lower price, i have paid that extra 10k for software support and exclusive sony features.

  • imparanoic

    that’s the risk of imported phone, at least you have unique features such FeliCa

  • pcgk33

    Paying for a firmware update isn’t right especially for those of us who purchase premium phones (flagship) that last for only about half year. It is also not reasonable that Sony will do a subscription for android version updates. Because it is not likely that they will raise enough resources to do the develop and test for every single Sony branded android phone plus I don’t believe everyone would pay for it. However, the solution could be that in the future firmware updates from Google, they make it usable for android phone users to upgrade their phone without manufacturer’s need to do a major testing. By doing that, manufacturers can select the minor options within the changes/new functions that won’t affect the functions or normal use of their phones. Much like installing (upgrading) a new Windows OS. After upgrading the new firmware, everything you installed stay there but added those new features from the new Android firmware. A lot of apps can be updated through Google Play Store now, so really shouldn’t be so hard to do that.

  • Tech Gospel

    Considering that Android is free… No. I’m not willing to pay for updates that are intentionally held back by companies that spread themselves too thin to give updates on all devices sold at a premium.

  • tri do

    what is this bs!! Once the phone is paid it is entitle to be supported by the manufacture. It is sony fault for bringing out too many models and to put in frankly, most of the internal specs are very similar to one another, so if it support this model then it should be supported by another one. they should look at apple and learn how most of the device will get that much update regardless which model year. But they should really focus on fixing bugs and improve the camera quality, even the flagship models are suffering from poor software optimization.

  • Jer

    Going back to iPhone looks better and better, sigh

  • Philip Mark Gutierrez

    No.

  • Gojira

    I want kitkat for my Xperia sp

  • Nicholas

    It’s not an import if you live in Japan like I do. I don’t use FeliCa or 1seg, I can put an Xperia ZR ROM on but then I lose NFC. I knew I should have waited for the Nexus 5, oh well.

  • Akuma

    I wil jus buy me a Nexus or a Motorola

  • In The End

    iOS is much better than android about software updating, another weakest links of android that make Sony can’t win Apple,

    sorry but it’s too late Sony, they should build their own platform long time ago.

  • xperiaDROID

    No. What were you thinking? A PSN subscription on PS4? Seriously, I paid for the hefty price of the phone is already enough for a “subscription fee”.

  • Alex

    At time of buying my Xperia SP I checked the Android OS roadmap for the phone on Sony support site.
    At the end of 2013 it clearly states: Current version 4.1, next one 4.3 and future 4.4.
    This information help me to made my final decision to buy Sony Xperia SP vs other models from other vendors.
    I paid money for handset+support and Sony have to provide better support and informing end users what will be final version of the OS at a phone release stage and not after one year after.

  • rockz0829

    Apple has a firm support through its products unlike Android OEMs.

  • Mr..X

    the prices are being crashed by the company as the competition increases to provide us with the competetive mobile prices…

    economic review-they do not have much margin if you have millions of workers .think of about getting 100$ people to 50 people i.e 2$,can you think that this much profit they can engange more research and development people to specifically assign to your handset.also the price of Mrp does not include major repair cost and cost of every alpha,beta handset that stops working doing your research and other malfunctioning,everything is not perfect for the company and not every product the perfection is reached without the malfunctioning of a handset…

    bottomline as the company widens the cost margin has to be increased to support the working of company but the profit margin has to be compromised..

  • AsadMulla

    If you had to pay, 2 things would happen. 1 every body would look to find a hacked version for free and/or 2 more people would buy google devices which would certainly have to be free updates.

  • BruceLeeRoyJenkins

    Really?! I figured dropping anywhere from $250 to an upwards of $800 sort of entitles you to get regular Android updates, or at least ensure that flagships are supported a year or two after they were released

  • Shalin Nagori

    I own a Xperia SP, I thought support period was 1.5 yrs, so i m waiting till September to provide a bugfree 4.4 for SP!

  • SeVeMaS

    I just want a bug free firmware, no matter what version is, and that is how we keep costumers happy. The phone should be up to date for at least 2 years.

  • SonyMac

    Ditto!

  • Vignesh Raja

    You are correct man!

  • Robcartoon

    I own an Xperia SP and the reason I bought it was the future update to 4.4 kitkat which was promised by sony but lately sony has been so quiet on the update. So why should I pay extra cash for something they promised for free after one has purchased a handset?? Its always polite and kind to keep your word.

  • AA

    No. I’ve already spent XXX on this handset. This amount of money should make the device bug free (nothing is bug free, but I mean critical bugs) and I’d expect them to keep updating until they’ve hit all potentials on the handset’s hardware. Sony is always like this. When they first release a phone, their software on it is not optimized at all. I saw my former phone Xperia S being updated to optimal status after almost 1.5 years or so. So I think the least they can do is to work on optimizing their devices.

  • imparanoic

    why would you lose nfc if you flash it with overseas firmware? just wondering
    also isn’t 1seg decent real tv transmission?

  • Vuyo Ncube

    Interesting article but no. Even if everything went as planned, this would take quite a while to get back to Sony Mobile and start working. And given that budget users are usually the ones without guaranteed updates, I doubt they’d want to pay.

  • Michael M.

    I think, that if vendor has no resources for support device, it must not launch such device. What they make all this low-end devices for at all? I think, that model line with 3 models per year will be OK. High-end flag-ship, middle-end flag-ship with smaller size and cheaper middle-end device with lower specs. And that’s enough. Then vendor can support these devices long enough. Subscription for software updates is bad idea. Apple tried to do so when they have started iPhoneOS updates. And nobody wants to buy newer versions. I would not buy such things too.

  • Telaran

    The whole topic is a bit problematic.
    2003 I had to pay 40 CHF for an Upgrade of my T68. Due this Software Update it was literally a T68I. So in one hand I wouldn’t mind to pay for a update.

    In the other hand many already stated: We pay often a high price for the device (In Switzerland are Sony device less promoted therefore less discounted with a contract as other manufacturer). I was also disappointed with the Update-Cycle of my Xperia S. Still I’ve bought a Z1C.

    In my opinion we have several problems:
    1) Too many devices in a too short cycle -> Hard to keep track and all of the maintained
    2.1) Too many provider which want have their Bloatware on the local device -> 1-2 Month Delay
    2.2) Due point 2 also -> More complicated Update Cycle and therefore Sony consider carefully if and where they would make a update.
    3) Android is still too complicated for Updates. It getting better and Sony are more and more capable of extract their “user experience” outside the core, still It’s a long way.
    4) No Transparency -> If I ask my provider about Update XYZ on Device Y, I’ll receive for each call another answer and in the End: “This device will not get an update”… 3 days later I have a Update Notification… Sony should consider to make a webpage which contains the informations like “Internal Investigation, Internal Development, Release, [Country – Provider] – Testing/Returned for changed/Finalization/Ready for deployment” this could also get the pressure to the provider (which sometimes hold an update for several months)

    One Statement Sony could do:
    “Each device will get [A Timeframe] before End of Life (so after 2 Years) the newest working (due hardware requirement) Android as Update and if necessary [a number] of Bugfixes” and maybe decrease the Update-Cycle on some device.

    Or they could offer a Vanilla Android Update in the EoL of the Device

    In any case: Transparency and (reliable & honest) Communication are the keys

  • mj

    i think the update period should be at least 2 years. most of the people don’t mind about buying a new phone every 6 months or every time they release the new model, most people wants use a working phone for 3-4 years before change it.

  • dimz

    Maybe for software assurance, like Microsoft does to people with a support contract after support ends, but that would have to be after the end of device warranty. Before that, heck no.

    PS: Aren’t companies selling devices in the EU obliged to have a 2 year manufacturer guarantee?

  • Sridhar

    I’m happy with my Sony devices. I would be more happy if you can adopt the following :)
    (1) Make us pay Less: Remove Up gradation cost from Factory Price. If required I pay and upgrade. This way flagships would become cheaper and more affordable.
    (2) Survey and Commit: Whenever a new version of Android is launched Sony can take a Poll and make a decision to upgrade based on the poll. So the unconditional wait exists no more :).
    (3) Take Responsibility: Stop saying that rooted devices will no more be supported. Bring in facility to reinstall a production build on a rooted device with support/limited for a cost. Don’t just be operator centric. Be customer centric too :).
    (4) Extend: If we see some interesting feature in other platform or phone come up with an effort and schedule to get them on our device.

  • Seraphimneko??????

    Understandable about newer phones get updates first

    But you cant just put 95% of your resources on the higher tier customers, no matter they bought a Xperia J/L/M etc, they are still your customers…

    Sony, you are basically killing yourself doing this. Even tho you release updates late, the bugs are as ridiculous as Samsung who releases updates faster.

    Dont blame Android for the bugs, if other phones with the same ver do not have these bugs, what can you say to us?

  • Seraphimneko??????

    Point 3 and 4 is so true

  • Himesh

    Sony Xperia Z3 can be the flagship of year

    http://smartphonetechie.com/will-sony-xperia-z3-smartphone-year/

  • mrninko

    never ever ever, i have paid for my phone so i want to proper care. and under word care i mean real care not “care” that currently provides sony!

  • Steve Blow JobZzZz

    Gladly. I’m pretty!

  • BangBangJessieJ

    Such costs should be already included within the price of the smartphone just like with the IPhone Pricing System. :D Or at least bug fixes for 2 years if no software version update are provided.

  • Battal Aljadei

    Why’s your topics goes for Sony benefits mostly & not for it’s Users benefits ?
    Writing a topic demanding Sony to take care of its costumers is better than putting some stupid suggestion that encouraging it to take more money from them for something that’s a free of cost on all devices and companies around the world !

    Have some logic .

  • Amin Behfarnia

    me too

  • matilaci

    Android free software!

    I want kitkat for my Xperia sp!!!!

  • amr

    Paying for the phone was already enough!!!

  • GeeksEmpire

    after Two years…
    i mean they should update it for two years then it s ok for me if ask for extra money for updates….

  • Sáu Mi?n Tây

    I’m waiting 1 new update from sony.

  • Sáu Mi?n Tây

    I’m waiting 1 new update from sony. Xperia L

  • Paul M

    yes, when you buy the phone it should be made clear how long maintenance cycle lasts, and what it includes: either bug/security fixes, or upgrades or both, and for how long.
    in some cases it will be cheaper for manufacturer to roll out a version upgrade than fix old versions.

  • Nkansah Rexford

    “Newer handsets will always be supported first, sometimes leaving older handsets languishing on older firmware and Android builds.”

    How can that be true! Sony z2 hasn’t received 4.4.4 update yet, meanwhile older devices have. So how true is that?

    Plus even when there’s an update, it takes more than a month for it to reach other geographical areas, like Africa.

    Now back to your question, I wouldn’t pay a subscription fee. If you provide proper updates, then you come back to say, because of this and that, we want subscription fee, that would make more sense that providing bogus support and update releases and coming for money.

    It all boils down to priorities. Sony lacks that, I believe. After working on, for me, a [foolish] movie creator app, you pushed it to z2 users in South Africa. Meanwhile, there’s a firmware update which isn’t available yet.

    They’re online [facebook and twitter] doing all sort of promotion for their z2, meanwhile NONE of its accessories are in ZA. I bought my z2, the sbh80 headphone, the screen protector, its roxfit case all in UK. But they launched the phone in ZA for people to use broomsticks as ear buds.

    Its unfortunate what I’m writing no one from Sony will hear. I yearn to meet whoever is in charge of distribution in Africa. We’ll get something to talk about!

    Subscription? NEVER FOR ME.

  • Paul M

    just because Sony might not pay a licence fee to Google doesn’t mean it’s free to put it on a phone.
    Even if they got lucky and just built AOSP and installed it with near zero effort, they have to do a lot of testing, and then the mobile operators do more testing to be sure it works on their network, and that takes time & money. A team of four people for six months working on getting the device approved on various networks probably costs Sony about a third of a $million or so.

  • Nkansah Rexford

    Yes! I have similar concerns. I’m not interested in sony getting me latest updates. The numbering of the updates doesn’t matter to me. If they’ll call it android 2.0 but it’s flawless and has no bugs, I’m good.

    However, the OS is buggy. I could use my Cyanogen Mod on n8013 Samsung Tab for more than 4 months without restarting.

    With my current z2 on the 4.4.2 (not most recent update), I can’t use the phone continously for more than a week, as before I realize, wireless isn’t working, bluetooth is on continuosly, I can’t use the camera, notification icons don’t disappear, and a host of other annoying bugs.

    Fixing the bugs is my major priority, and for that, they have FAILED. They shouldn’t dream of talking of paid subscription.

  • Nkansah Rexford

    “Transparency and (reliable & honest) Communication are the keys” and that is what I’m afraid to say that Sony isn’t doing well in that!

  • “…or at least ensure that flagships are supported a year or two after they were released”

    That’s exactly what I said. However, being a business person, I’d be willing to pay for updates after that period. Extend lifetime of an investment, you know.

  • Tech Gospel

    I understand that which is why churning out useless models that take time away from developing proper updates. People joke about Apple but they update all their phones until the hardware can no longer support the features, but security patches are still released. Sony is shooting themselves in the foot releasing so many models based on so many chipsets but don’t have the support team to handle speedy updates. The latest 4.4.4 for the Z1c broke the Bluetooth and LTE stability. 4.4.2 on the tablet Z bogged down performance. No fixes have been released yet. But efforts to update other models are continuing. So you can see efforts are so divided.

  • michael99uk

    Will it come with a product key ? Jokes apart i think these OEM’s should launch low end windows phones so that they wont spend money updating cheap phones Microsoft will be doing all the work for them and updates is assured for the users.

  • ?????? ?????????

    It depends on price

  • Duje Petri?evi?

    Switched from sony xperia s to nexus 5. Have no problem with this anymore hahahahaha sony makes really good phones, but software… Full of bugs, to be shamed of. With nexus is not problem, and not to mention that nexus devices will get android L first, sony device will wait 6 months minimum, knowing Sony, and not to mention devices that will never get the update but they are capable of that (sony xperia z wont get the update, i can be 100% sure that)

  • John Zakaria

    I wont pay a cent I can get the FTF from the one who paid :P

  • Paul M

    yes. but I also expect transparency when I buy the phone as to what’s included.

  • xperian

    Well, i have ZR and didn’t yet receive the latest firmware (4.4) but i am really ok with the current 4.3 as long as its all working good and the difference is not that much to make me desperate and start moaning all around. Sometimes i cannot understand the way people complaining about the update it sounds like a spoiled teens who have nothing to do in their lives. Moreover isn’t google to work on their laggy android why they released buggy 4.4.2 then 4.4.3 to fix it then shortly anither fix 4.4.4 why don’t they make yearly update but a real upgrade not just no# upgrade.

    I’m just sharing my opinion.

  • Paul M

    I think a key part of the problem, and it’s what helped kill Nokia/Symbian, is that traditionally phone manufacturers thought of themselves as selling an appliance, i.e. mostly hardware with a fixed set of features, and once shipped that was pretty much it. I had a few Symbian phones and updated them, but generally all you got were bug fixes.
    Apple take the opposite view, they’re a software company and their phone is just the hardware to run their OS and applications, and they properly separate hardware features from the higher level bits of the OS and the apps. Switching hardware platform is thus a lot less painful for them.
    Google understand this, but the phone manufacturers are only just getting it, and until they stop treating every phone as special and unique rather than a bundle of hardware bits, we’ll continue to get the crazy update cycles.

  • Shaik Farooq

    sony please release phones with same hardware but different screen sizes like for
    mid range
    Same hardware but diffrent screen sizes different cameras and diffrent price points
    and
    ultra high end phones have the SAME flagship hardware inside
    but of course different screen sizes
    by this way it will be easier for software team

  • Jan

    Paying for updates is crazy idea. I only buy flagships. Even if SP or Play or any else Xperia was looking nice, only the flagship is worth that much money, and you will be not forgotten by update-makers. I want new phone n sometimes i struggle with this idea but no chances for Z ultra, T3 etc etc only Z2 or incoming Z3 which i dont buy because Z2 is much cheaper and still best. Have a nice day

  • honglong1976

    Yes, agreed. I have an iPhone 4. Has the latest update when it comes out. Xperia L. Great phone, but really awful support from Sony. If I ever got an Android again, it would be an Nexus. Sony’s strategy seems to be, update the flagship phones, ignore all the rest. Really they should support to a degree, even bug fix firmwares. We would have more respect and would be more likely to buy a Sony phone future. My Xperia L? Going on eBay. Next phone? iPhone. Better quality of apps, OS updates as soon as they are released. No customer roms? so what? iPhone works great without doing anything. Shame as I love the Xperia L, Xperia M gets 4.3 with better camera app, Xperia L doesn’t? that’s just poor customer service.

  • honglong1976

    No. Updates should free of charge. If you buy a phone and it’s supported for 18 months you should receive whatever updates are available until the 18 months run out. Sony should also provide updates on phones and est update date of whichever Android version.

  • honglong1976

    I have a PSP and PS VIta and updates are provided for the life of the handheld console. Shame that doesn’t happen for the Sony phones.

  • Fynjy7771

    Apple’s updates sometimes have big lags as well (I have an experience in owing their products) apple’s programmers are people too. Moreover Apple has it’s own disadvantages (talking about iPhone) comparing to Sony’s flagships, I mean lower specs, no water resistance, higher price (despite what I said before) that’s why I wont move to them in the near future.
    The main thing is that your post isn’t an answer on my question above.)

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  • Micheal Archer

    It’s always been my approach to make a purchase decision on the basis of what I am actually getting in my hands out of the box (or in limited cases, what software will be immediately available as an update once I power on my device). This sense of entitlement for future updates is beyond me. If the device I’m purchasing out of the box isn’t worth the cost, then I guess I won’t buy it.

    Sony creates devices that I find aesthetically pleasing and I’m willing to pay more for the appearance as well as the added hardware features (ie. waterproofing) and the familiarity with their software. When Sony lays out a software roadmap, to some degree they are committing to following that map and every person should expect that the “Next” software version advertised online WILL reach that model (NOT their specific handset*, however). The “Future” software version is usually “under investigation” rather than a promised update.

    *Sony has absolutely no control over which regions and providers ultimately decide to release updates that Sony has released so Sony cannot guarantee that any software released after purchase will ever reach any specific handset.

    That said, I don’t think that a subscription service would be overly useful for assuring software updates. How would Sony decide which devices to focus on? If only one Xperia S user had a subscription it doesn’t make sense to put any effort into upgrades, but that person would be paying for something and getting nothing (but expecting that their money is worth the same as any other individual user’s money). So obviously one user is too few, but what is that threshold? A thousand? A million? And what about the devices which have fewer subscribers than that threshold? Do they wait? Do they get a refund? How will the subscription service be administered? Will it be like Kickstarter where a minimum number of subscriptions must be sold before anyone is charged? Or will it be like PlayStation Plus where each individual is charged? What would be the time limit on gathering enough subscribers to make an update a reality, and what about the time between “launching” a subscription service and obtaining the threshold number of subscribers – does Sony just do nothing during that period (why would they invest time and money into developing something until they know it will happen?)? When would a device transition from “implied” support (current approach) to “paid” support? Which devices get more resources? The devices with more subscribers (older models), or the newest flagship? What about the device that just finished the “implied” support stage but has the same number of subscribers as a device one year older – do the two devices get equal attention, or only the newest one?

    The biggest question is “Will any of this actually make more customers happy?” And I think the answer, ultimately, is no. I’ve been with Sony (Ericcsson) since the Xperia X10 and I’ve seen the different update approaches that Sony has tried in order to appease their customers. I personally “enjoyed” the lack of updates for the X10, and upgraded my device to the Xperia S (which then got placed at the back of the queue for updates as well. I’m now with the Z1 and updated to 4.4.4, and it feels nice to be “first” in a sense…but the Z1 is less than a year old and I’m sure that it will end up at the back of the line before another year has passed. So far, nothing pleases everyone – updating the NEWEST devices first makes that “committed” customers unhappy, updating the older flagships first makes the newest customers unhappy, updating the newest devices followed by the older flagships and then allocating whatever minimal resources are left to updating the non-flagships seems to make everyone unhappy.

  • Edo

    And what you would say about XPERIA tipo.. It launched with ICS, and remained on it -_-

  • In The End

    iOS is much better than android about software updating, another weakest links of android that make Sony can’t win Apple,

    sorry but it’s too late, Sony should build their own platform long time ago.

  • Michael Felton

    where is my XPERIA Z1S 4.4 updated my smartband is USELESS FOR SO LONG i blame t-mobile.

  • joe

    No i already bought the phone should be enough to get the last update

  • Ben

    Later versions of Android contain bug fixes as well as new features. So by upgrading your Android version, you get bug fixes and improvements. Sony spending money fixing bugs in older versions of Android doesn’t make sense – especially if those bugs are already fixed in a later version.

    I would like to see a system where updates are guaranteed for a certain period from launch – two years for example. After this then perhaps there would be a moderate subscription charge to remain current, with a service guarantee. Something like £20/year to include at least a major update.

    Unfortunately, this is mostly outside the control of Google or Sony anyway. The chipset manufacturers are the ones that need to commit to the support; if they don’t update their drivers, then it is difficult for manufacturers to bring updates to older models. This is why flagship handsets are supported longer – they tend to use newer chips that are themselves that get a full couple of years support. As these get older, they are used in lower cost devices – but support for new updates may then cease much sooner after launch.

  • WilliamTell13

    Hell no!

  • Niels Niemann

    It’s a dream scenario … I’m very loyal To Sony. Love their products and have everything In Sony. But I’m disappointed in the way they support their phones.

    I bought Arc as a flagship model when it was realised, moved to Sony S which is my current phone. This phone are simply the worst phone I ever tried. After each updates which pi did like and feel add something value to the phone, the phone itself are just getting worse and worse.

    E.g. Camera sucs. But worsen and far more important.. SMS typing impossible… It’s so slow in it response, so abnormal.

    It has 32 GB internal memory. But for what use. Only 2GB are useable. Not all apps can be moved to (not SD) but the “internal memory” as it’s called in this phone. I don’t understand. I thought internal memory was = internal useable memory. I really learned a lesson!

    And after each update, e.g. Crome. The app just takes more and more space of the useable internal memory. Not possible to uninstall.

    So I really don’t know if Sony are playing nice to their trustful customers. Xperia S are for sure no longer a flagship.
    But I do expect more when I start buying a very expensive product, compared to what ells I can get.

  • Peter

    Never. And not really my concern anymore as after 4 Android devices I will never buy an Android handset again.

  • Rodney

    They should. Android should get scrapped all together.

    It’s an OS that can’t run the UI smoothly on a quad core device with 3GB of RAM on most devices… the original iPhone with 333Mhz CPU was able to do that… if that’s not pathetic, I don’t know what is.

  • Sony user

    It’s simple to me: if Apple can charge you the same price as Sony for its flagship, and they can support your device with 4-5 years of updates which are being delivered 1st day – then Sony should do that too. And I don’t care that they have many devices, and Google is releasing the source code blahblahblah. From my point of view – as a customer – I don’t give a s… If 1 company is able to provide me with that – for the same money – than I would expect Sony to do the same, or do away with Android if they cannot provide.

  • NJS

    If the phone was sold dirt cheap like china phones than yeah, but at this price rate no way in hell. I rather install custom roms.

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  • xperiafan324

    I’d be willing for lower-end handsets, but that too if the updates would be consistently issued with no or very minor bugs, AND at least for 2 years. And such a subscription should ALWAYS be implicit in the cost of flagships. Or else take the price of flagships down a notch.
    It’s important to note that this should be similar to extended warranties i.e. an optional and realistic (not super high) expense at the time of purchasing a handset incurred for peace of mind mostly. It shouldn’t mean that owners without such a subscription don’t receive updates at all.

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  • arcu de triumf

    They better improve the software department. What if we pay and then we have problems or glitches or issues like always happens with Sony updates? And more than that it takes time until they fix it so…Nope. Those updates are one of the many reasons Sony has low market share. Too much problems too many flaws. It’s Sony hello ! Things should go smooth from the beginning.

  • Shailesh Vats

    I agree with u. Same thing with Xperis SL. This phone also not getting 4.1.2 however it launched 1 year before stopping update by sony. This is my last sony handset.

  • Jo

    LOL! No it didn’t! Go get a Nexus 5, does it ever stutter? No. Sony, Samsung, Lg and HTC are not software giants like Google, they should stop making big changes to Android since they can’t make it always work the way it is supposed to…

  • TrixzD

    Lol you are kidding right, the reason it doesn’t run smoothly on most devices is because oems stuff all that rubbish on top of vanilla android and can’t be bothered to properly optimise their software to work smoothly on top of Android and the hardware they use. Look at Motorola they have a dual core flagship that runs android smoothly because it’s practically vanilla flavour and of course the nexus programme also proves this theory aswell. So don’t go blaming android, blame the oems who insist on shoving crap down people’s throats

  • SomeGuest

    Why not, Sony would then be contractually bound to push updates; if they breach their word it would be bad PR.
    And I don’t doubt such updates would leak quite rapidly.

  • David S.

    I think this is a moot point for Xperia owners – the Z series were the first devices to get 4.4.4 and other devices like the SP were budget phones for people who may not care as much about the latest and greatest.

    Overall, I think Sony is doing a decent enough job getting the latest to the people who “need it” (the Z series owners) and updating the others as needed (IE the T and M series owners).

    Just my 2 cents though,

    Dave

  • dyEpnOoDLe

    why should i pay if XDA is there for my device?

  • joe

    What ??? i have 4.4.4 on my Z1C the Bluetooth and LTE working perfectly . Go check your handset

  • hilan

    Wud gladly pay for major upgrades…per upgrade…nit on subscription basis…

  • Tech Gospel

    Yes they work, just not as well as they used to. Jawbone media playback no longer works. (Still works on my Tablet Z) SmartWatch 2 connection stability isn’t as good as it used to be. LTE signal is slightly weaker and switches to 3G more often than it used to.

  • InspectorGadget80

    NO. My Z1 just got 4.4.4 i rather buy FLAG SHIP phones that gets the updates. instead of not buying the end models. and hell no wouldn’t pay just to subscription for updates

  • Rahul Singh

    Is Sony assures or guaranties that if the money we’d pay for software/firmware support as a subscription we will get STABLE and UPTO DATE firmware support who isn’t ready to pay.. Most of us are.

    But STABLE and UPTO DATE!

  • Rahul

    *If

  • subin

    i was stunned to see the very lower range moto E running on android 4.4.4…….{a xperia zl owner}

  • Juan Camaney

    And nothing of value would be lost.

  • Azam

    Want to xperience some Android L type and Playstation type themes on your existing xperia kitkat?? go here,

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=UNIQUE+TECHNOLOGIES

  • Niels d. G.

    Apple only has a handful of different devices to maintain (compared to manufacturers of Android devices), and all devices that run iOS are manufactured by the very same company that develops iOS itself. That’s why iOS devices are (can be) supported for a much longer time.

  • Niels d. G.

    In the long term you would have paid as much in subscription fees as you would have paid for a new and more modern phone/tablet, so it would be pretty pointless to pay for extended software support.

  • Frode P. Bergsager

    After purchasing 6 Sony Xperia handsets I have now learned my lesson, and five days ago I bought myself a new Nexus 5 handset.
    It may not be waterproof like my old Xperia V, but it is still quick and responsive with all my apps installed, Bluetooth doesn’t lock up and SmartWatch 2 doesent loose connection without warning.
    I may still check this blog from time to time to see if Z2C or Z3C will get decent suport from Sony, as i still want a compact waterproof handset with high end hardware (and software…).

  • ???????? ???????

    yes, you’re right, sure. But if….lol

  • ???????? ???????

    Ty for a link

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