Yes, I said it. You don't have to be a fan of HTC's products to realize they (and Sprint as well, we suppose) have figured out how to send out updates. We're not talking the quality of the update here, so simmer down everyone unhappy with their Thunderbolt or EVO 4G after the latest software updates. Nor are we speaking of the timeliness (or lack thereof) of updates. Just the methods. When HTC realized one of their system updates borked the Sense 3.0 lockscreen on the EVO 3D, they simply updated the app themselves, and sent it out to users without getting carriers or anyone else involved. Same thing they did when they noticed HTC Watch needed a little fixing up. This is how a manufacturer should handle updates to their own code -- focus on the bug and kill it in-house, then send that sucker out to the users ASAP, over-the-air, with little fanfare or fuss.
Let's compare this to the way other manufacturers are handling updates. I've yet to see anyone else send out a tiny OTA to fix anything, let alone a bug they introduced from the last OTA. Hopefully they are all working on it, but all we have to go with is their past actions:
Samsung is one of the biggest offenders here. They were quick enough with the Honeycomb 3.1 update for those Galaxy Tab 10.1's they gave out at Google I/O, but forcing me to sign up through their app and web store to get it is a giant fail. It's the same mess I had to go through to get a software update for my television, and I wasn't happy about it then, either. I get enough junk mail thank you very much. Don't even get me started on forcing users to use KIES. If you're lucky enough to have never needed to use it, KIES is a crappy desktop application used to flash software on Samsung phones. It's difficult for the average user, runs like crap on a Mac, and forces Linux users to run Windows in a VM. It needs to go die somewhere, and never return. I wonder how many Vibrant owners just said forget it when it came time for their long awaited Froyo update. I know I would have, because KIES sucks.
Motorola gets no pass here, either. There's that whole mess of shipping your Xoom off to get the features posted on the box to work -- whenever that happens. If something's not ready, you either don't sell it or you don't advertise it as such. You definitely don't tell users they will have to send it away after they gave you their money. Fixing the SD card is easy -- easy enough that developers did it in short order for those that root and tinker. If Toshiba can do it, someone like Motorola who has been building Android gear for a while needs to step it up. And before you tell me "Google is supposed to fix that" remember this: Google didn't take anyone's money, never integrated SD card support in Honeycomb, and didn't tell you what to put in the spec sheet or on the box. Send out a new kernel and a little magic to the partitions now, not later. Take care of your customers first, and deal with Google later.
And the biggest offender? LG. They just don't do incremental updates, no matter how badly their products need them. Battery driver issues on the G2X will get fixed with the Gingerbread update, but in the meantime we're still paying full price on our T-Mobile bill for a phone that doesn't work full time. Look at the CM7 source tree for a fix if you need to.
Maybe I'm off the mark here, and HTC will go back to forcing users to wait forever for small, but crucial, updates (remember that wake-lock bug on the Hero anyone?), but I'm betting they won't. With Sense.com and their online services to download and update widgets, and pushing out small application updates outside any official update roadmap, they are winning me back. Now let's see those unlocked bootloaders we were promised so I can throw money at you until you give me a Sensation.