So the day we all dreaded came to pass over 24 hours ago with just a simple statement to act as the “will” of the maker rather than the dying man.
The statement released by Samsung Mobile UK and which is what we expect will be effected globally by Samsung Electronics simply states that due to memory limitations, Samsung is not able to provide a KitKat update for the Galaxy S III and its sibling the Galaxy S III mini. However, this will only affect the international 3G model since it is the one that packed just 1 GB RAM while the carrier-branded LTE variants that shipped to regions like North America all pack 2 GB RAM. In essence, those who won’t be getting the update are quite a number as almost all the markets got the GT-I9300.
While the decision to nix the KitKat update for the Galaxy S III may have been informed purely by technical challenges as it won’t have provided the customer experience Samsung had in mind, it should not be lost on us that they would also be eager to sell you their latest offering instead of providing an upgrade. Of course Samsung is to be lauded for supporting its flagships extensively more than any other Android manufacturer out there. The Galaxy S III has been updated from Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich to 4.1.2 Jelly Bean to the current 4.3 Jelly Bean. That’s a good track record to have. However, even with Android 4.4 KitKat being light on things and allowing devices with as low RAM as 512 MB to be updated, Samsung’s own additions in the form of TouchWiz make the update to be too heavy to handle on a 1 GB RAM device. Then again, the Galaxy S III sold well over 50 million devices in its first year and continues to sell to date. What will become of all those customers?
While the Galaxy S III is way past its 18 month support period (it marks its second anniversary this month), Samsung sold tens of millions of this device and in its position as the leading Android device maker, it ought to set the pace. It has already outshone everyone (hello LG, HTC, Huawei) with updates to flagships by offering the longest support period but it needs to do more for its large and still increasing customer base. Apple has been able to do it, surely Samsung can do it if it tries. We are at a point where we’ve stopped whining about Android updates for mid-range (aargh Galaxy S III mini? No) and low end devices but for the guys that shed top dollar or enter into biannual carrier agreements just to have Samsung’s latest flagship, the least the company can do is provide support for an extended period. Since everyone still sucks at updates, getting this right will be a marketing feat in itself since the few customers who give a hoot about updates are the ones that make the loudest noises. Most either have no idea or don’t care or will gladly upgrade to the latest but for the few that do, they deserve it.