AT&T CEO blames Google for slow Android updates, Google responds

Following a recent interview, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, has found himself in a war of words with Google regarding the thorny issue of Android devices being slow to receive updates. Stephenson stated that Google is responsible for the slow updates to Android-powered phones, causing increased fragmentation of Android devices.

"Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when," Stephenson said. "A lot of times, that’s a negotiated arrangement and that’s something we work at hard."

The statement came in response to a question which asked Stephenson why some Android devices don't receive updates as quickly as others.

Google provided a statement to 9to5Google disagreeing with Stephenson's statements, with harsh words for the CEO.

Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.  Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.

Stephenson's remarks follows a number of other questionable quotes from the same interview, such as stating that he wished AT&T had never offered an unlimited data plan. The company stopped offering unlimited data after 2010.

AT&T recently introduced a cap for data usage on mobile devices; after hitting the cap, users will see their bandwidth throttled to a fraction of its standard speed.

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39 Comments

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This guy has his foot so far down his mouth / throat, it's amazing it hasn't come out his anus yet! It's shocking how a complete moronic duche like this can be the CEO of company as large (albeit corrupted) as AT&T! Might go a long way in explaining why the Occupy movement got started in the first place...

I like AT&T and have been with them for at least 6 to 7 years. I am irritated by this statement because their new android phone, HTC One X, is BOOTLOCKED by THEM!! And they have to put all that BS crapware on their phones. I wish they would release a phone with stock Android and some minimal apps on it. And unlock the freakin bootloader. AT&T needs to really re-evaluate this statement. They hose up the phones, not Google.

Interesting that the CM guys can push out device updates pretty damned quickly yet the zillion dollar AT&T corp can't seem to afford the development costs or do it efficiently.

Gnome said,
Interesting that the CM guys can push out device updates pretty damned quickly yet the zillion dollar AT&T corp can't seem to afford the development costs or do it efficiently.

because CM doesn't add the crap that most of the carriers do, that's why it's faster to release, and everybody knows that making crappy apps and injecting them in a ROM takes time.

What a bold faced lie. I have a Sony Xperia X10 World Phone with AT&T. The 2.1 Android firmware was sent to all carriers straight from Sony and AT&T didn't release the update until half a year after all other carriers had already done so. They still haven't brought us the 2.3 firmware released last summer for the Xperia X10. There's no way that Google is preventing AT&T from being the only carrier in the world to withhold software updates.

In addition, AT&T locks down Android devices in order to prevent them from installing apps/custom software as easily. I'm locked out of services like the Amazon App Store because AT&T doesn't want me using it. They promised to release updates to unlock the custom software option but those updates never came. Maybe new devices bought today can do it but my device purchased last year can't.

Bad form, AT&T. Bad form.

Here's an example of how I see it (using my Samsung Galaxy S II on AT&T as an example):

1. Google pushes out *lame nickname* release
2. Samsung takes forever to add their fluff/crap.
3. AT&T takes even more forever to add their fluff/crap
4. Release to public.

So why is Google to blame? Phone maker and wireless carrier are the real ones to blame.

ir0nw0lf said,
Here's an example of how I see it (using my Samsung Galaxy S II on AT&T as an example):

1. Google pushes out *lame nickname* release
2. Samsung takes forever to add their fluff/crap.
3. AT&T takes even more forever to add their fluff/crap
4. Release to public.

So why is Google to blame? Phone maker and wireless carrier are the real ones to blame.


Because releasing sources is just not enough.

Article stated

Stephenson stated that Google is responsible for the slow updates to Android-powered phones, causing increased fragmentation of Android devices.

And this is half false. Different hardware, and different phones are the main cause of it. If you want less fragmentation, then start doing fewer Android Devices. Hell who knows how many Samsung Galaxy phones are out there!

Its not just the Carriers its the Phone manufacturers and Google.
Here is my example
I just acquired a used Droid phone on Tmobile, which has Froyo on it (My Touch 3g)
This is as far a Tmobile has updated it and won't allow further updates. The other issue is that with its hardware it cannot support many functions on the later Droid versions
If Google were to work better with their OEMS maybe we could soon get phones that have OS update support longer than a few months, then the carriers will follow

wv@gt said,
Its not just the Carriers its the Phone manufacturers and Google.
Here is my example
I just acquired a used Droid phone on Tmobile, which has Froyo on it (My Touch 3g)
This is as far a Tmobile has updated it and won't allow further updates. The other issue is that with its hardware it cannot support many functions on the later Droid versions
If Google were to work better with their OEMS maybe we could soon get phones that have OS update support longer than a few months, then the carriers will follow

OEMs have access to the latest releases from Google. You can see this when they release a new phone with new software. They obvious have their stuff together. The breakdown is when a carrier like AT&T comes into the picture. The carriers aren't supporting the phones after point of sale. If you call up your phone manufacturer, chances are that they'll tell you clear-cut that a phone either has lost support because it's old news or the latest firmware update has been sent to the carrier. If you call up your carrier, they'll give you a run-around in order to cover up their bad service. This CEO is just mimicking his customer support department.

JesseJ said,

OEMs have access to the latest releases from Google. You can see this when they release a new phone with new software. They obvious have their stuff together. The breakdown is when a carrier like AT&T comes into the picture. The carriers aren't supporting the phones after point of sale. If you call up your phone manufacturer, chances are that they'll tell you clear-cut that a phone either has lost support because it's old news or the latest firmware update has been sent to the carrier. If you call up your carrier, they'll give you a run-around in order to cover up their bad service. This CEO is just mimicking his customer support department.

And this is one of the many reasons users get an iPhone. Updates are with Apple not the carrier.
How does Windows Phone compare?

wv@gt said,
How does Windows Phone compare?

Not as well, but not nearly the android debacle.
Updates from MS after being vetted by carrier.
Carriers can block at most 1 update.

Its not googles fault its the manufacturers mainly then carriers add to it loading there shitware on it that takes ages. That's the goodthing about iPhone and WP, WP is a bit slower although not sure why it needs carrier approval (maybe its for the default setting like message centre number and that). That's why I loves it. Ifya don't want wait on WP get latest firmware from cds or someat and use MS flash tool to update it. simples!

psionicinversion said,
Its not googles fault its the manufacturers mainly then carriers add to it loading there shitware on it that takes ages. That's the goodthing about iPhone and WP, WP is a bit slower although not sure why it needs carrier approval (maybe its for the default setting like message centre number and that). That's why I loves it. Ifya don't want wait on WP get latest firmware from cds or someat and use MS flash tool to update it. simples!

LOL, 3rd times the charm?

psionicinversion said,
Its not googles fault its the manufacturers mainly then carriers add to it loading there shitware on it that takes ages. That's the goodthing about iPhone and WP, WP is a bit slower although not sure why it needs carrier approval (maybe its for the default setting like message centre number and that). That's why I loves it. Ifya don't want wait on WP get latest firmware from cds or someat and use MS flash tool to update it. simples!

It's not the manufacturer. Sony released the 2.3 update for my phone last summer but AT&T never adopted it whereas carriers in other countries have. Simply put: AT&T doesn't want to provide service for phones they've sold you.

Its not googles fault its the manufacturers mainly then carriers add to it loading there shitware on it that takes ages. That's the goodthing about iPhone and WP, WP is a bit slower although not sure why it needs carrier approval (maybe its for the default setting like message centre number and that). That's why I loves it. Ifya don't want wait on WP get latest firmware from cds or someat and use MS flash tool to update it. simples!

Its not googles fault its the manufacturers mainly then carriers add to it loading there shitware on it that takes ages. That's the goodthing about iPhone and WP, WP is a bit slower although not sure why it needs carrier approval (maybe its for the default setting like message centre number and that). That's why I loves it. Ifya don't want wait on WP get latest firmware from cds or someat and use MS flash tool to update it. simples!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main delay on releasing new OS versions down to the phone manufacturer and not Google OR the carriers?

TCLN Ryster said,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main delay on releasing new OS versions down to the phone manufacturer and not Google OR the carriers?

That's what I thought... Maybe AT&T's point here is that Google isn't proactively holding the OEM's and Carrier's hands? I dunno...

TCLN Ryster said,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main delay on releasing new OS versions down to the phone manufacturer and not Google OR the carriers?

Yes, the manufacturer is an intermediary between official Android releases and the carrier. But AT&T is legendary for withholding updates that have been released to the rest of the carriers. For example, the Xperia X10 update was released by Sony in August 2011. Other carriers in other parts of the world have sent it through. AT&T is still withholding it... and blaming Google somehow?

The manufacturer will tell you when they've dropped support for a device. AT&T will pretend they still support it while blaming everyone else for their bad business decisions.

M_Lyons10 said,
That's what I thought... Maybe AT&T's point here is that Google isn't proactively holding the OEM's and Carrier's hands? I dunno...

That's the problem with free. It incentivises nothing.

What a load of crap! It is a well known fact that the bloody carriers are the ones that cause fragmentation because they take forever to release an OS update that integrates all their junk.

The Dark Knight said,
What a load of crap! It is a well known fact that the bloody carriers are the ones that cause fragmentation because they take forever to release an OS update that integrates all their junk.

Not just the carrier, also the phone maker.

The Dark Knight said,
What a load of crap! It is a well known fact that the bloody carriers are the ones that cause fragmentation because they take forever to release an OS update that integrates all their junk.

Carriers are not software companies, they shouldnt be making changes of modifying an OS, that is why Android is so F**ked up, and people are starting to see that.

ir0nw0lf said,

Not just the carrier, also the phone maker.

both. yeah I'd love to have 2.3 on my Samsung Precedent but Straight Talk said they don't upgrade... thats what you get for pre paid phones. I don't expect that either.

I can't see Google being the issue here, if AT&T aren't rolling out ICS already, then it's not really Google's problem...

Raa said,
I can't see Google being the issue here, if AT&T aren't rolling out ICS already, then it's not really Google's problem...

I see. It's Google's fault that they don't have proper deployment policy and technologies.

AWilliams87 said,
I have to say, Neowin news updates are so slow to the point where it no longer makes sense to use it as a source at all.

Personally I view Neowin as more of a collaboration website in the sense that they collect articles from all over the web and you don't have to go to a whole heap of individual sites its all just under one roof here. It may not be the fastest all the time but it is usually fairly quick. Plus if you read the forums this was posted pretty much as soon as the news broke.

AWilliams87 said,
I have to say, Neowin news updates are so slow to the point where it no longer makes sense to use it as a source at all.

What part of "Where unprofessional journalism looks better" did you not get?

Toysoldier said,

What part of "Where unprofessional journalism looks better" did you not get?

"better".

AWilliams87 said,
I have to say, Neowin news updates are so slow to the point where it no longer makes sense to use it as a source at all.

So True. Go to the Verge.com. Much better site.

AWilliams87 said,
I have to say, Neowin news updates are so slow to the point where it no longer makes sense to use it as a source at all.

Some stories we don't find all that important, so we don't publish them immediately. This was one of those stories. There are numerous stories we've posted before or at the same time as other technology sites.

AWilliams87 said,
I have to say, Neowin news updates are so slow to the point where it no longer makes sense to use it as a source at all.

aren't we all glad you get fast info. neowin is free ... and it's a blog sort of site. and you don't need to read it either. heck sometimes its the other way around. some cute little things been online for ages 6 months later the media picks up on it and it's on the old tv set