In the first two instalments of this series I tackled the areas of market success and the centralized App Store. In this, the third part, I intend to cover the wide range of quality between the low-end Android phones, and the high end.
Before I start, let’s make one thing clear – I really like Android. But, sometimes I don’t know what to make of it. For instance, the two versions of Android I like the most are vastly different.
Stock on the Nexus One, G1 and G2 were my personal favorites. If it wasn’t for being unable to get used to the N1′s onscreen keyboard, I’d still have it now. I also enjoy Samsung’s Touchwiz – but that’s probably because it looks so much like the iPhone’s OS.
Let’s take it back to the N1. However great the hardware and software, I could not get a handle on the virtual QWERTY. Let’s imagine for a second that I’m the bog-standard phone consumer, with no knowledge of Android, iOS or any other platform.
If I had a poor experience with the same issue, I’d be unlikely to try anything else Google-powered, despite the vast difference in handsets. I worked in a phone store for a few years, and trust me, people completely disregard one OS, or even brand, purely based on one bad experience.
The truth is, that a customer could have found the perfect device in a Samsung Galaxy S, Moto Defy, or Sony Ericsson Arc. What if they did? They ditch the N1 in favor of the Galaxy S, and they love it.
What does this person then think of Android? Now, I know most of you guys who read this type of blog knows the difference between Touchwiz, Sense UI and various other skins loaded on to Android handsets.
You guys are in to tech and may find this concept strange; but, most people who buy phones will generalize, and canvas Android as being one thing. If they don’t like HTC Sense UI, or have a bad experience with one of the lower-end handsets, then Android immediately becomes a no-go area.
Here’s the thing. The likelihood is that people will have poor experiences with the low-end smart-phones. Let’s say someone buys the Defy, or the Wildfire and finds it has recurring issues with the ear piece or network connection, it immediately stains the reputation of Android despite the fact that many of the high-end devices perform exceptionally well.
With iPhone there’s one device. It’s solid, the build quality is fantastic, and there’s only one OS. This lack of ambiguity means that a customer can quite easily decide whether or not they enjoy it, without first having to try various other forms of the hardware and software.
So, by stating “I don’t like the iPhone”, they’ve made as informed a choice as they can. With Android there are so many different versions of OS, and so much difference in build quality, and form factors that it takes a longer time to make as informed a choice.
And for the end user, this often means relying on the opinion of a salesman. Let’s be honest, these guys aren’t exactly the most honest people and will often sell you a device which means more bonus for them.