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Android This Week: Froyo Updates; Fragmentation Fights; Xoom Pricing

After many months of waiting, owners of Samsung Galaxy S handsets in the U.S. are finally beginning to see a software update for Android 2.2, or Froyo. T-Mobile made the software available Friday and squashed rumors that Samsung was holding back the update to gain additional support money from carriers. Instead, the delay is due to Samsung turning over the code in late November and carriers testing or integrating their own branded apps between then and now.

Sprint (s s) has quickly followed T-Mobile with a tweet, saying the update for their version of the Galaxy S is coming soon as well. I’d expect Verizon’s (s vz) Fascinate and AT&T’s (s t) Captivate will see the update within a few weeks, as Samsung likely turned the software over to the carriers at the same time. While this is good news in general, the execution of the update is less than desirable: instead of an over-the-air update, T-Mobile customers must download the software on a Windows (s msft) computer (sorry OS X users!) and transfer it to their phone via a USB cable.

The topic of Android updates became a popular conversation early in the week with a debate on what percentage of Android phones are running the most current version of software vs iOS handsets that are up to date. Much of the discussion centers on the different approaches taken by Apple (s aapl) and Google (s goog): Apple’s minor versions often add far fewer features than Google’s minor versions. And as illustrated by the Android updates for Samsung handsets, Apple’s strategy of offering fewer handset models makes it easier to get iPhone owners up to date at roughly the same time. It would serve Google well to find ways to diminish the role of carriers in the future, which would reduce fragmentation issues.

On the Android tablet front, rumored pricing is starting to make the rounds, with Motorola’s Xoom tablet reportedly priced at $799.99, per information leaked to the Android Central blog. If true, that price likely represents an off-contract, unsubsidized price for the Motorola (s mmi) slate, which will initially use Verizon’s 3G data network, but will be upgradable for the operators 4G / LTE network after launch. Even with traditional subsidies then, the Xoom could end up costing more than a comparably equipped iPad, which currently isn’t subsidized, making Xoom a tough sell. Neither Verizon nor Motorola have commented on the price leaks, so this story is likely far from over.

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8 Responses to “Android This Week: Froyo Updates; Fragmentation Fights; Xoom Pricing”

  1. g00ber PyLe

    That is an outrageous price for a plastic slate. When compared to the iPad 2 I don’t think it will offer any additional features than could possibly justify its cost premium.

    Apple is a “premium brand” that equates to a certain level of QUALITY hence the buying public has no problems whatsoever paying more for their stuff because they bring it.
    Motorola however has never achieve this quality level to date and it is quite obnoxious of them to even think they can pass something like this off to the public and get away with price gouging.

    In general Android sells most of its devices at a much cheaper price than a similar Apple device because, well they ARE CHEAP in more ways than one.

    • As the article points out, the rumored price is probably unsubsidized. Apple’s price for a 32GB 3G iPad is $729. The price difference would be worth it for the microUSB port alone.

      Personally, I consider all 3/4G tablets outrageously priced. I purchased the iPad before the 3G version was available, and have always found wifi ubiquitous enough to avoid paying for an additional service plan, and I can supplement any gaps in wifi with occasional tethering. Until a wifi-only Honeycomb tablet comes along, I’ll stick with the iPad.

  2. I wouldn’t call myself extraordinarily tech savvy, and I was easily able to upgrade to Froyo via Kies on my Vibrant. Free (at least so I think thusfar) tethering was a really nice surprise.

    Question for you Kevin, with this rollout to Froyo, do you think Tmobile will become more stringent on charging for tethering?

  3. Regarding: (sorry OS X users!)

    Ever since Fusion added the pop up window that asks whether to attach the just plugged in USB device to Fusion or Mac OS X I’ve been having excellent results in using Windows tools to do things like firmware updates on phones.

  4. If we do not keep the pressure up, many folks can not do the update the way they are forcing it currently (jump thru hoops) when all they have to do is make it a down loadable file off the web.

    So why can not Samsung/T-mobile do it the same Google Nexus way with the Vibrant vs. the complex Kies way?