Yes, there's an issue with software updates .... vendors need to be more responsible about that.
Vendors are. Cell carriers aren't. Without a new shiny, how are they supposed to lock you into a new contract for another 18 months, until the next new shiny comes out?
Everything is predicated on locking a customer into your business, in order to reduce customer acquisition costs. It costs a heck of a lot more to acquire a customer than it does to lock them into a contract so you can retain them.
Without this aspect of the business model, both your cell phone costs and your service costs go up. The phone costs go up because they are no longer subsidized, and the service costs go up because they can't amortize the customer acquisition across an average of 5-7 years, and instead have to worry about the customer leaving.
The entire telephone company service model has always been about charging based on circuit switching points, and charging for long distance. Now that everyone is using cell phones, they can't do that any more, and have moved to packet switched networks. But in order to maintain their profit margin, they've had to push the costs off to other areas.
In case you care, most of the costs come from federally mandated rural service. If the telephone companies didn't have to provide service so that when someone in a rural area was having a heart attack, they didn't just conveniently die, and not be in a rural area any more, they could vastly reduce their infrastructure costs.
Most of the rest of the world (certainly Europe) doesn't seem to realize that the U.S. has about 180,000,000 people who do *not* live within 50 miles of a coastline. Unlike the U.K., where *everyone* lives within 50 miles of a coastline. The U.S. is *big*.