Samsung has announced that their Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab 7-inch tablet will not be getting Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich, the most anticipated Android upgrade in history, perhaps the only one anticipated widely outside of the technical chatter of Android nerd circles. The reason? They say it won’t work with their own Android User Interface, a.ka. Touchwiz.
While Touchwiz is generally inoffensive to look at and use, and added some much needed functionality to earlier versions of Android (but resulting in painful upgrade cycles), it is essentially rendered redundant by the Android 4.0 User Interface. If consumers were asked whether to keep their Touchwiz or upgrade, and explained the differences, there can be no doubt they would want to get the upgrade.
So why is Samsung putting their own defunct UI over the satisfaction of its customers? Greed is the likely explanation. They want to encourage upgrades rather than focus on older devices. This is a mistake. HTC made a similar mistake with the HTC Sense Gingerbread upgrade, delayed by the Sense User Interface until HTC had the sense to remove some of their modifications and allow it
Samsung risks driving users to competing companies, or even turning them away from Android entirely by denying them the experience of the finest Android to date. Samsung should simply offer a vanilla Android 4.0, with explanation that customers will lose the use of the Touchwiz interface, and with an option to restore. This would truly prove if Touchwiz is popular enough to justify its existence. I doubt that it is.
As a member of the Open Handset Alliance, and a leading Android manufacturer, Samsung has a responsibility to its consumers and to the platform to deliver this upgrade to every device with the technological capability to support it, especially for their more iconic products like the Galaxy series. To do otherwise shows little regard for the people who invested in their products in good faith.
I love technology and how it changes our lives. There’s something almost spiritual about how new technologies connect and empower us. And it’s really cool, too.