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Galaxy S firmware update invalidates Voda warranties

Loyalties divided

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Galaxy S owners who accept Samsung's offer of updated firmware will invalidate their warranty according to Vodafone, which wishes to remain the only source of official upgrades.

The upgrade is offered automatically by Samsung's Windows synchronisation software, as supplied in the box from Vodafone, and has not been approved by Vodafone.

The synchronisation software is called Kies, and comes on a CD in the phone's box. Last week those using Kies were offered the chance to upgrade to a bug-fixing version "JM1", and happily posted their experiences to the Vodafone forums - reporting faster performance and fewer bugs. But forum administrators were quick to remind posters that installing unapproved firmware invalidates the phone's warranty, even if that firmware comes from the handset's manufacturer.

This position hasn't changed - users who download and install firmware from the internet do so at their own risk - but this upgrade is suggested by the software that comes with the phone. That software is shipped to the customer by Vodafone, which is now telling users to ignore its suggestions.

Galaxy S owners who did click on the link will still have a warranty with Samsung, but Vodafone won't get involved if anything goes wrong. As the company explained in a forum posting:

"Our warranty allows you to get faulty handsets repaired through us even if you don't have insurance on the condition that your phone is running Vodafone approved software and it is within your contracted period."

This is all part of the long-running battle between operators and manufacturers for ownership of the customer. Like an embittered couple the two parties smile and claim to be working together, while constantly undermining each other and vying for control of the customers' experience.

Samsung (in admiration of Apple) would like to create the kind of relationship that Dell has with your ADSL provider - that is to say, no relationship at all. Vodafone believes you are its customer, and that you really want Vodafone 360 branding and applications pushed onto your handset.

This round goes to Samsung, as users who find that they've inadvertently invalidated their warranties will blame Vodafone, but the fight goes on. ®

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