It had to happen. First there were the rumors. Then there was the leak. And now there is the class action lawsuit.
After an internal T-Mobile tipster revealed that Samsung had asked the carrier not to release Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) for the Vibrant, because they were concerned it would cut into sales of its new Vibrant 4G, a scorned Vibrant owner took action.
Michael Aravaan Khora, a music producer who goes by username MicBeast over at XDA Forums, announced that he has engaged the law firm Edelson McGuire. Working with attorney Ben Richman, they are putting together a class action suit against smartphone manufacturer Samsung and mobile carrier T-Mobile for "Unfair and Deceptive Consumer Business Practices." The Federal Trade Commission has standing in interstate trade, while state consumer agencies also have an interest in business conducted within.
Finding published statements by either company that the T-Mobile Vibrant smartphone was going to be upgraded to Froyo may indicate grounds for damages. Khora links to this summary of Unfair Trade Practices in explaining his grounds for a case. While the law firm has not issued a press release on the case, a quick look at the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act suggests the suit rests on these issues:
If a business or person engages in the following, the action constitutes a deceptive trade practice:
...Causes likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services
...Represents that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or qualities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsor-ship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that he does not have
...Represents that goods or services are of particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of particular style or model, if they are of another
...Advertises goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised
...Engages in any other conduct which similarly creates the likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding
Plus, I'd expect the suit will have all kinds of other charges thrown in, in hope some of them will stick. I'd like to see them throw in the issues with the GPS not working on so many Galaxy S phones.
Here is Samsung's response to CNET when asked about the rumor of their blocking Froyo for the Vibrant:
"Samsung feels it is important to make the Android 2.2/Froyo upgrade available only after we feel that we can give the millions of U.S. Galaxy S owners a simple and reliable upgrade experience. Due to the complexity and unique functionality of each Galaxy S device, we are performing additional testing and are working to make the Android 2.2/Froyo upgrade available to all U.S. Galaxy S owners, including the Samsung Vibrant, as soon as possible.
The Samsung Galaxy S line of phones has been upgraded to Android 2.2 in most other countries, and we have wondered why there is still a delay in the United States. Galaxy S phones began to be released in June, 2010, and a Froyo update was promised during the launch event. None of the Galaxy S line sold by the four major US carriers have been updated, and while they have been promised, no firm dates have been given. Equivalent phones sold in Canada, however, have had their updates announced. And it's not like Samsung doesn't already have a reputation for this sort of thing; remember the Behold II?
Edelson McGuire is involved in other class-action suits, including one against Amazon for deleting e-books off customers' Kindles, and against mobile carriers for "mobile content" charges.
We'll keep you up to date on this fascinating development.