Samsung Escapes Mandatory Android Updates

A court has rejected a call for Samsung to be forced to update phones for at least four years after release. It ruled that such an obligation was impractical because it involved an unknowable future.

The case was brought in the Netherlands by the Consumentenbond (Consumers Association), an organization roughly equivalent to Consumer Reports in the United States. Although any verdict would only have been binding in the Netherlands, there’s a good chance that the practical implications would have meant Samsung offering the updates worldwide.

The Consumentenbond asked for a minimum update period of four years after the model was released or two years after a specific handset was sold, whichever ended later. It also wanted a deadline of three months for Samsung to issue security updates after they became available.

The case centered on the way Android phones get updated, with Google producing the update software but manufacturers (and in some markets cellphone service providers) determining when it actually tolls out to users.

The Consumentenbond argued that Samsung should be held to a similar standard as auto manufacturers who are required to keep models safe and reliable. Samsung argued that it already had an update guarantee (two years after the model goes on sale) and that it does enough to make customers aware of this before buying.

The court ruled that it’s not reasonable to bind Samsung to future acts. It said some updates – even for software fixes – might not be compatible with older handsets that would still have come under the proposed guarantee period.


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