For the dedicated few that have still held onto the HTC Thunderbolt through all of the broken promises and the infamous declaration from HTC USA that the long-expected Android Ice Cream Sandwich update would be coming soon in August of 2012 after countless delays only to be nearly forgotten about until now, Verizon has officially confirmed the update rollout with the expanded rollout beginning next week.
The HTC Thunderbolt has its place in the history of Android devices owing to it being the first Android smartphone to launch in the US with support for LTE on Verizon’s then nascent LTE network in late 2010. The high-end phone originally launched with Android Froyo, and its specifications allowed it to be updated all the way up to to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.
Not long afterwards, Verizon and HTC launched successors to the Thunderbolt also powered by newer versions of Android, but both companies would always dodge valid concerns by owners of the Thunderbolt on when the long-expected update would be rolled out as HTC infamously tweeted that it would be rolled out “soon”, only to be nearly forgotten about in the face of newer devices last year.
With the rollout beginning next week, one has to wonder if the update is being rolled out to avoid any legal claims against either company, as the phone is 24 months old now and has been succeeded by four generations of high-end Android smartphones from various manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola. Realistically, the delayed rollout also demonstrates how far HTC has fallen from its once prominent position as a trusted manufacturer of Android smartphones as the HTC One debacle demonstrates that a change in direction can backfire without the proper planning and execution.
As a result of the One series not being able to compete against Samsung, Motorola and the increasing visibility of other local Chinese competitors such as Huawei and ZTE, HTC has posted loss after loss after multiple attempts to recover lost marketshare, with every attempt never gaining the expected attention that was necessary and falling behind Android flagships as a result.
The HTC Thunderbolt Android update debacle should serve as an example of how not to handle an Android update, and both Verizon and HTC have blame to share between one another for letting the update situation get to this point, both in terms of communication and expectations.
One can understand taking 6 months to develop and test an update to account for carrier needs in early 2012, but an additional 6 month delay with no explanation from the last communication on the issue in August 2012 means that there are internal issues that need to be solved on both sides, regardless of whether newer devices are available to upgrade to as a consolation. Most of the the people that would have cared about the update have already bitten the bullet and swapped to other devices by now, most likely not made by HTC.
For this reason, this update should be treated as Verizon and HTC wanting to get the update out to close the book on the issue once and for all, rather than it demonstrating that both companies still care about keeping devices updated in a timely manner when it’s plainly obvious that neither does.