Like many of you who read the screed, I’m a fairly literate person when it comes to technology.
I know – given what I do for a living one would hope that’s true. That’s why my recent experience with some very common technology – a cell phone – is so frustrating. Over the weekend my family all upgraded their devices. The girls all moved to iPhone 4S and I moved to a Samsung Galaxy S3. Both are great devices. However, they both illustrate a point that’s all too common and what I want to discuss today.
My phone came with the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. I knew that there was a Jellybean update available – an upgrade to the latest version of Android. While the ability to update the OS via an over the air download exists, because the manufacturers and the carriers can’t get on the same page, one needs to install the upgrade via a piece of software that lives on a computer. I installed it on a windows PC, connected the phone and waited. And waited. Apparently, it’s a known issue to connect the device to the PC – a software issue. I tried it on a Mac. Same issue. A few minutes of searching the web told me that there were a number of potential fixes that involved editing the Windows registry (not for the faint of heart), modifying phone settings, uninstalling and reinstalling device drivers, etc. Nothing worked.
I used Samsung’s live chat customer support. They had me try a few things I had also found on the web. Nothing. They said to uninstall the software which, of course, involves a reboot of the computer, which means you lose the person with whom you’re chatting and can’t get back to the same person again so you start over. After many hours of this, I’ve given up. Before the Apple fanboys and girls chime in, let me say that upgrading an iPhone to a new version of iOS ended up bricking my wife’s phone for a while and the number of issues I’ve had with Mountain Lion on my Mac is frightening.
Here is the business point. No other industry with which I’m familiar releases products with known issues, and when the issues become public doesn’t seem to be in any particular rush to fix. The G3 is a best-selling phone and to get to the latest operating system shouldn’t take the technologic equivalent of tossing chicken bones and burning incense. Thousands of people are frustrated by this – I’m sure Samsung and the carriers (it’s not just a one carrier issue) are well aware. If we want tech to be integral – more integral – in customers’ everyday lives we can’t behave this way. Imagine if airplanes or cars were released with the kind of stability we see in most technology.
I don’t know what anyone can do other than to vent as I’m doing. For me not buying the product is not an option. Maybe that’s why these companies don’t seem to care. But witch doctor solutions to these issues has to stop. Do you agree?