Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at

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23 responses to “Verizon’s FOTA & Its Dangerous, Dirty Little Secret”

  1. justin

    that’s a great post! first great post i ever read on here. even though i don’t have vzw. i hope they fix this. god forbid anyone is killed due to this.

  2. UPdownLoAD

    Verizon = Skynet

  3. Brandon Smith

    It is actually a legal issue. The device must prompt the user before entering a state when 911 calls cannot be made and must warn the user of such.

    If the device is not capable of making 911 calls during the upgrade and the user was not warned, users can sue, and the FCC can issue fines.

    Nice catch.

  4. Dan

    Very informative post Chris. Not sure what VZW sees in an auto update which the end user can not only chose when to install but if they want to install. My guess would be this is the first, last, and only update of its kind. I doubt they want to get their legal team involved.

  5. The Competitor Guy

    First of all Chris… please…. This site is so anti-Verizon its hilarious. You are so far into Sprint that you can’t understand anything other than how to screw or belittle the other guy. Which is really the only way of defending a carrier whom is in the throes of death. Verizon’s FOTA system, if you would have inquired(oh wait, no one at VZW would have commented because A. you’re not a real journalist and B. you’ve burnt every bridge within the major carriers except SN; does not JUST auto-update. The system gives you TWO chances to postpone the update. It will prompt once and if you don’t reply, begin the update. If you postpone the first one, the second notification comes 24-48 hours later, and if you postpone again, it will auto-update on the third attempt without option to delay. This is more than fair warning for a consumer. The other option is to go to the menu and select the autoupdate after the first notification to avoid any interruption during that important life saving call to report a bicyclist on the sidewalk.

    Brandon…. your comment is just BS. I ran this past our technical guys this morning to see if there is even a spec of truth… sorry buddy, that was pulled straight from your arse. Otherwise any Palm phone, HTC device, or other phone that contains Music Only or Airplane Mode would have to notify you when you turn the radio off.

  6. SaltyDawg

    I am so glad chose AT&T over Verizon (even though I get a fat discount on service and devices from Verizon).
    COmbine this with Verizon crippling devices (GPS on the 6800, anyone?) and I have to wonder why anyone would ever choose Verizon.
    If coverage is the same in your area, why on earth would anyone ever choose Verizon over AT&T?

  7. cj

    great article chris. this has class action lawsuit written all over it. the only time i ever updated anything while on verizon was going into the store to add speaker capabilities to the original launch lg chocolate. in my opinion, firmware updates does more harm than good. while fixing or adding features others get damaged mostly battery life. at least for my last 2 phones. hopefully fota doesnt end up messing up peoples phones.

  8. The Competitor Guy

    Keep living in a dream world Chris. I am sure that a couple hundred product managers are wrong and you’re right. I own a boulder as well; and the prompts happened just as I said. This was a mass critical update that was required to improve functionality of the phone as the ODM did not have this phone ready for primetime as I understand it. Look for a lot more of these, but next time “report” what happens, not what you conceptualize.

  9. Humberto Saabedra

    Competitor Guy,
    I just bought the phone myself and was subjected to the same autoupdate, with no prompting from myself. The fact that the phone forces the update because as you state, “it wasn’t ready for primetime” speaks to the incompetence and potentially dangerous train of thought within the product development team.

    I hope the next auto-update doesn’t leave me with a dead phone…

  10. On Verizon and FOTA | Blog

    […] Posts Just a head’s up on Verizon and FOTA. We are working with Verizon to deliver a complete update to you. There are still a few things that […]

  11. Dan S

    There are a variety of FOTA updating methods out in the market now. People are getting extremely positive FOTA experiences with Nokia’s N78 3G smartphone. Read below:
    June 25, 2008: “The update downloaded, something like 1.7MB, and installed flawlessly with all of my settings, applications, and personalizations in place and working like a champ. This is the way I would like to see all mobile phone updates and am very happy to see Nokia making over-the-air updates available.”
    June 25, 2008: “I think this new way of getting a firmware for your Nokia-device via wireless-lan is great and should be added to more devices. What do you think about getting new firmwares directly over the air?”
    June 29, 2008: “I think firmware over the air (WiFi) is a great idea. I wish I could do it with my N95 (I think I can’t, am I right?).
    Thanks for the info.”

  12. SaltyDawg

    So eventually Verizon will do something like cripple GPS, everyone will flash a custom ROM to enable GPS, and Verizon will “update” the firmware over the air- crippling GPS again.

    The FCC needs to step in and do something about these “automatic” updates.

  13. Boulder Owner

    If everyone is saying it just updates before prompting you, you just might have a defective phone. I have a Boulder along with many coworkers at my company, and none out of the 39 devices we purchased from Verizon gave us any problems with not prompting twice first. But go ahead and take the 1-2 examples you have and keep feeding the fire; deterring other people from getting what we all here at our company as a well put together device. The very few people whom are actually experiencing a problem not prompting first: Get off your lazy ___ and get a warranty replacement! Gies. All the time you spent complaining on this blog, you could have already exchanged the device, and had your problem fixed already.

  14. Chevy Volt’s Battery, its Moral Hazard, and My Solution | Christopher Price .net

    […] you’re in a natural disaster, or in a dangerous situation… it’s just as bad as a derelict cell phone that decides to update brick itself. So, give users a little bit of leeway, but set requirements […]

  15. Verizon FOTA Issues Persist, Customer Council Objects, FCC PSAPs Concerned |

    […] Our original reporting on Verizon Wireless’s issues surrounding forced firmware updates have sparked controversy. […]

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    […] update also echos our previous coverage of Verizon’s FOTA implementation, which can be used to update devices without the […]

  17. Billy

    All I want to do is hack my boulder and get modify veriozons horrifically terrible firmware. How can this be done?

  18. Humberto Saabedra

    Just to add some info, the fimware is in fact directly taken from Casio’s KDDI build and modified for Verizon so there is no generic firmware at all for flashing.

  19. Joe

    I know this is an older thread but it is now June of 2010 & My Gzone Boulder has the same issue with Auto updating. Also it seems any firmware above 14 or 15 seems to have alot of issues & there does not seem to be a way to Downgrade the firmware =(

  20. Follow-Up: MetroPCS Forces Automatic Update on Samsung Indulge |

    […] type of automatic forced update is the first one to be found on an Android device and is dangerous, as a broken download or bad update risks damaging the phone to the point where it will not […]