The Nokia N97 software v12.0.024 became available on 18 Aug 2009. While many lucky users elsewhere were able to install the update over the next few days or weeks, some others like myself were not so lucky. I eventually got my update on 29 Sep 2009, but it was for v12.0.026. It’s like there was an additional small little fix that Nokia needed to put in. I don’t know if this was the reason for the delayed availability of the software for my phone, but waiting for over a month is too long for anyone who watches software releases and wants to stay on the edge of new developments.
The problem with Nokia software updates is that they don’t get released at the same time. You’d have thought that if there was a software update for the N95 8GB, then all N95 8GB phones should be able to get the update. Nope. In fact, it’s not even the case when you take into account the little variants in the phone model (e.g. N95-2, N95-4, and N95-6 are all N95 8GB phones, but the -4 and -6 variants are for markets in North America and China respectively, with the -2 being for the rest of the world).
It turns out that the availability of software updates is not just dependent on the phone model (including specific variants within the model), but also on telco branding and market channel. You can read about this from my article on Nokia Phone Software Updates. Due to telco branding issues, some phones may see their updates much later than others of the same model. The delay is not just days or weeks, but sometimes stretches for months.
It is really annoying, but that’s how Nokia has been doing things. I don’t know if the same applies to other brands of handphones, but users of Nokia phones are getting really frustrated going by the posts seen in the Nokia discussion forum. Clearly many users are not happy. It’s not just about wanting to get their hands on new features, but sometimes, there are important bugs that need to be fixed.
The funny thing with the current N97 update is that the software seems to be released in two phases, each in a different mode. Those who received their updates earlier had the v12.0.024 software. They had to update their phones through NSU (Nokia Software Updater), i.e. through a PC. Those who got their updates later had the v12.0.026 software, and their software was only available through Over-The-Air updates.
Over-The-Air updates are cool. Phone connects to the Internet, checks for update, downloads update, installs the update, phone reboots, and you have an updated software. It just takes a few minutes. It’s actually a lot faster than updating using NSU through a PC.
I think Nokia should think about how to improve this software update process. The technology itself, like Over-The-Air updates, works well. It’s the processes behind which eventually makes the software available that is upsetting many users.
ps: The next software update coming up for the N97, and which has been much talked about already, is the v20 software. It will bring about several notable enhancements. You can read more about it from several online sources, and a somewhat detailed on which includes video is: N97 Hands-On Experience.