And introducing Firmware Hell… thanks to Google, Telstra and HTC

Not to be a name dropper, but I do know people in Telstra, Google and HTC.  They are really smart people as well. I’d go out on a limb to say that most of the people that work in these companies are smart people. Knowing this makes dealing with the outcomes of doing a firmware update even harder.

Having all ready written about why I wasn’t going to update my firmware to Telstra Froyo until the official version came out, I can now finally deal with the firmware update. What should have been an easy process turned out to be a nightmare of usability, performance, general shenanigans and complete frustration.

From the last few weeks of miscommunication, lack of transparency and frustration about the whens and ifs of the update itself. There was a large audience of very technically literate people crying out for this update, months after Google release it, finally Telstra say it is coming.  Coming in  4 weeks, a few days, a few more days, sometime soon, we will let you know, soon e.t.c.  If they didn’t know what is wrong with saying you don’t know.  If there is a delay, what is wrong in saying what the delay is.  Being open about these processes will in most cases placate people.  Why can’t these corporations just realise that Lack of information is the main cause of audience frustration?

So finally, the firmware comes out yesterday. Now for reasons, that haven’t been disclosed, the firmware isn’t OTA ( Over the AIR ), meaning when you press “Settings: About phone: System software updates: Check Now” on your phone, it simply says “ Your Phone is up to date”. But it isn’t.  Why isn’t the system designed to handle non OTA updates?

So I know that there is a firmware update. Great, jump on the web and head to, and yes HTC have a link to Telstra Firmware on the homepage.  But not so fast. This is a link to the version from 2010-04-30.  So to get the new version, you have to click product support, whats new.  Why is it so hard to update the home page?

Next, you have to get the serial number for you phone.  To do this, you have to take the back off, then remove the battery, then enter the serial number of your device.  Of course the file is now available on a number of forums without asking for a serial number to install. Why do I need to get the serial number again?

At least now I am at the download stage. Please do not be in a hurry to download.  A 173meg download taking 3 hours to download is just stupid.  I was average around 20kbs for this file. I’m sure Telstra have enough capacity to ensure a slightly faster download. Why wasn’t a local server for downloading the software available?

Now comes installing.  With 30 or so pages about the firmware update on Whirlpool talking about errors and work arounds to get the install to work. Seems that Win7 64bit and/or your choice of USB ports seems to be an issue. A random USB 170 or USB 171 error are really not helpful. This shows that perhaps a bit more real world testing of the update may have been required. Why not release a public beta version of the update to sort this out first?

So finally you get the installer to work.  Then you see the big red writing “Installing the ROM Update Utility (RUU) will delete ALL information and data on your Android phone.” Yes everything, all your settings, apps, messages, screens, everything.  Funny thing is I can update my Playstation3, my computers, my other phones ( eg Nokia’s ) without losing everything.  Of course there are backup apps.  But 3rd party apps, that you need to pay for just to back up your phone to do a firmware update. Why can’t they just back up your settings when installing?

Sure I know have Froyo, but was it worth it? If you include all the stress, running around and fixing I now have to do to my phone, I’d say only just.  But then I won’t know for quite some time, as all my contacts have got screwed up, I don’t have any apps installed yet and have to reset all my wifi passwords as well just to download stuff.

And if you are a non techie person, I’d say phone a friend before attempting this at home.


Update from HTC

To assist our customers in downloading the Froyo update for the HTC Desire in Australia, below are some helpful tips.  For any further assistance, customers should contact HTC Customer Care in Australia on 1300-482-482. An over-the-air update will be available soon for customers.

1.     Follow the installation instructions that are available on the HTC Australia support web site
2.     Before installing HTCSync remove any previous versions.
3.     Remove any HTC drivers from Windows Device manager
4.     Install the latest version of HTC Sync 3
5.     Disable any Anti Virus s/w or firewalls.
6.     Connect the device directly to the PC/Laptop and not via a USB hub
7.     Reboot the computer.
8.     If all fails try another computer


The above comments from HTC’s Facebook page also puts pay to the comments below that a OTA update would be to big!.

My advice would be to wait until the Over the Air Update comes out and has been tested, this would be even more true for Mac users.


final update…

Great news….  via @petesymons

FroYo OTA now avail for Telstra HTC Desire. Use WIFI & have 25MB memory free. Go 2 settings>about phone>syst software updates>check now


(p.s this post is also on the ABC Tech site, so head over there for more comments as well )

12 Responses to “And introducing Firmware Hell… thanks to Google, Telstra and HTC”

  1. (I’m here from!/Ausdroid/statuses/28867337046)

    Well, you’ve nicely summed up my feelings on yesterday/today’s monumental clusterf–k, and a lot more politely than I would have done.

    Some time ago, I stopped recommending Android to my non-nerd friends, because despite how much I love it, I really don’t think the platform is ready for people who are considering switching from the iPhone – and I’m sure as hell not ready to be the person they assault with “I thought you said Android was awesome?!”

    But from today, I’m not even comfortable recommending it to my fellow nerd friends. How the hell can I convincingly argue in Android’s favour with this sort of bulls–t?

    Actually, to be fair, it’s not Google/Android’s fault. It’s HTC’s for making a beautiful device but not properly considering all of the steps beyond that, and Telstra’s fault for not ensuring a flawless upgrade path for their paying customers.

    When I called Telstra, they told me they couldn’t help me. Why not? I’m using a device given to me by Telstra, and it’s not rooted, so why the hell isn’t my carrier equipped and obliged to help me?

    I called HTC, and their customer service mules were predictably clueless. I’m extremely thankful that I’m a savvy enough person that I was able to resolve the issue by following the workarounds suggested on Whirlpool. I can only imagine how painful this has been for ‘regular’ people – especially those who’ve switched from the iPhone and assumed the update process would be similarly painless. Boy, what a rude awakening they’re in for.

  2. Thanks for the run down Wolf. I’m pretty reluctant to bother even though I really want to access some of the feature updates, like not being able to save apps to the SD card. Grrr. Add to this the lack of Mac support and you can kind of see why the HTC Desire on Telstra failed to really shift that many people from iPhones.

  3. Ironic isn’t it, that the T-Mod ROM – a non-official Froyo – has a user guide to take you through rooting, backing up, and updating your phone. And then restoring your apps and data.

    That’s right, an unofficial ROM is more helpful than the official one. We get updates more or less weekly, and apparently will have Gingerbread (3.0) soon-ish.

    There are even better experiences out there. Cyanogen and its ilk will happily update OTA via the ROM Manager app that’s a part of the ClockworkMod Recovery ROM. It doesn’t help with the rooting process, but I was genuinely impressed at the smoothness of transition between one version and the next.

    On backup, I’d gladly recommend the free version of Titanium Backup – but sadly, it wants superuser access, meaning your phone needs to be rooted.

    I’d not recommend rooting for the faint of heart and non-tech users, but for techs I think it may be the best way to go.

    One other note: I gave a Desire with the official Telstra ROM to my non-tech boss, and he loves it. But we haven’t been through the Froyo upgrade yet….

  4. Google should be taking manufacturers and telcos to task over poorly managed and executed software updates. Between this and the recent issues with the sgs update process, android as a platform is copping a lot of criticism from end users. OTA updates (that don’t fully wipe your phone) should be a requirement enforced on manufacturers and telcos by google.

    If telstra can’t push the update out across their super duper next G network, they don’t deserve exclusive rights to any other android handsets.

    Makes me glad I went with a nexus one instead of a desire, and I think my next phone will have to be the next android developers phone as well.

  5. Wow! This update is causing a whole heap of problems – I feel sorry for Telstra users.

    I imported a Desire that was built for the Taiwanese market. It was unlocked but still branded. As a result, I had to wait for the OTA update from the Taiwanese telco. This came through a couple of months ago and was absolutely seamless. No data was wiped, nothing went wrong, and the phone has worked flawlessly ever since.

    As I see it, the problem with these updates is that there are layers upon layers. I like HTC Sense UI so don’t have an issue with HTC adding more to Android but by the time telco’s add their widgets etc we are really looking at a build upon a build with another build layer on top. Figuring out who to blame for a borked update is impossible in this scenario.

    Perhaps telcos like Telstra need to just stop messing with software. If they have widgets or apps that are useful to their customers then let their customers decide whether to install them. Then, maybe, people won’t have to wait 6 months to get an update.

  6. You don’t need to take the back off the phone to get the serial number. Even if you didn’t keep the packaging, upon which it’s written, it’s under “Settings” > “About phone” > “Phone identity”.

  7. The reason it’s not an OTA update is because it’s 173Mb big. I’m not sure if Google support OTA notification that there is a larger update waiting to be downloaded at this stage..

    That said.. getting the official Froyo on the Desire sounds about as hard if not harder than rooting it and installing a better ROM anyway.

    Also, FWIW, once you have installed the official FROYO Telstra ROM, you may find rooting your phone difficult in the future (as it updates bootloaders etc) so if rooting your phone is something you plan to do, I advise against installing the official update.

  8. Well I can’t even get the HTC Synch to connect to my handset. I have installed Windows Virtual Machine “Windows XP Mode” to try it this way but it still won’t connect via USB , it won’t work with Win 7 and the only advice the HTC Drones give me is to “use another operating system” which is what I have done. They are aware of the problem but no ETA on any hotfix.

  9. Can someone explain to me why a smartphone, which is a computer, needs another computer involved in its software update process?

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment