Imagine you want to buy a new mobile phone: a smartphone that is a software-driven internet device. You expect this new device to work on the latest technology.
You expect that it will be able to run the latest apps. And you expect it to be protected against the latest malware, spam and other digital dangers. In other words: you expect your new phone to run safely, now and into the future.
And these expectations extend beyond your new phone to all software-driven devices: televisions, cars, fridges, laptops, you name it. Nowadays, many devices are software-driven and linked to the internet, or will soon belong to the fast-rising ‘Internet of Things’.
But these devices need the latest software and regular updates in order to function as optimally and as safely as possible. Unfortunately, 80% of new smartphones don’t use the latest version of Android, the most widely-used operating system. And about 50% of new phones use a version of Android that is so outdated that it could lead to unsafe situations. It is as if you are buying a brand new car fitted with a motor from its 1980s precursor.
[A]bout 50% of new phones use a version of Android that is so outdated that it could lead to unsafe situations. It is as if you are buying a brand new car fitted with a motor from its 1980s precursor.
This is why the Dutch consumer organisation Consumentenbond started a campaign in 2015 for consistent consumer information about the software status of new purchases. Our demand is simple: transparency and fair information.
In fact, the story is not over after you have bought your product. It has actually just begun: you expect your smartphone to be up and running for many years, or at least for as long as promised. But in the meantime, new apps and new malware will appear. Consumentenbond therefore wants manufacturers to update all of their software-driven devices for a minimum of two years following purchase, and for a period of four years following their introduction on the market. Without these regular updates, the device will not function as promised for the client. In other words, without the updates the device will become prematurely outdated.
Consumentenbond started a campaign in 2015 for consistent consumer information about the software status of new purchases. Our demand is simple: transparency and fair information.
So far, although the risks for consumers are growing, manufacturers have done little to improve the situation. Consumentenbond therefore decided to take the matter to court at the end of 2015. Unfortunately the Dutch court didn’t see the urgency of the issue, finding it “too complicated”, and the judge ruled that the case should be admitted to another court.
Consumentenbond is continuing this battle. On 11 November, we went to court again in a lawsuit against Samsung, the world market leader in smartphones. Ultimately we want a much better update policy for all consumers: not only from Samsung but from all smartphone makers and sellers, and eventually for all software-driven devices. That way, no consumer will have to cry: “I want my update”.
This was a guest blog by Gerjan Huis in ’t Veld, Manager Campaigning & Communications at Dutch consumer organisation Consumentenbond.