It seems that every time a Google executive speaks about Android there are hundreds of thousands more activations per day, thousands and thousands of more apps and hundreds of new devices. While the growth that we’re seeing in Android is overwhelmingly positive, it’s that number of devices that has me concerned.
Whenever Comscore, NPD, Millennial Media, Neilsen, Strategy Analytics or any other accredited research firm in the mobile space says that Android is kicking the pants off iOS in terms of operating system, the iOS fanboys ring out that iOS is just one device. Well of course their wrong, but it is less than 10 devices up against 400 or so devices.
Variety is a great thing. Some people like small screen phones, some like large screen phones. Some people like physical keyboards. Some people like candy bar style keyboard devices, some like slide out keyboards. Some like 8mp cameras on the back, some like 2mp cameras on the front. That’s one of the great things about Android the variety.
But is there ever too much variety? Nowadays new Android phones are being announced, released, unveiled or brought to market two to three times a week. The high level super phones have many of the same specs. The entry level and midrange phones also have many of the same specs. Which then points to manufacturer loyalty. Really how many normal consumers have manufacturer loyalty to a cell phone manufacturer. Sure a consumer would know that Apple made their iPhone but do you know how many people think Google makes an Android phone?
I know I’ve had manufacturer loyalty but now in my 30’s I’ve had more cell phones in the past 10 years than most families will have for an entire lifetime.
More after the break
So think about the normal consumer. Most average or normal consumers change cell phones at the most, every two years. Some don’t even change that often. I know many people who are still on a Blackberry from 2007 or even a G1 from 2008. Early adopters are great but that’s not what’s fueling the 550,000 Android activations per day.
So yesterday we learned from research firm NPD that the HTC Evo 4G on Sprint was the top Android device sold in the second quarter of 2011. Keep in mind that the HTC Evo 4G was released in June of 2010, in fact it was the “Google I/O device” last year. Also keep in mind that while Sprint does still run an occasional HTC Evo 4G advertisement, they’ve been hitting the HTC Evo 3D up pretty hard, and we could all probably recite the dialog in the HTC Evo Shift 4G commercial verbatim.
The HTC Evo 4G had cutting edge, top of the line specs in June of 2010, today entry level and midrange Android devices carry similar specs. What can be learned from this? Do normal consumers care about dual core processors or quad core processors? Is the Evo 4G faster than that feature phone, messaging phone or iphone 3Gs that’s been in the customers pocket for a year, heck yes.
So why is it necessary to release a new Android superphone very 15 days when last years technology is doing just fine? Now I’m not one to stop innovation. I love fast things and pretty gadgets but I’m not the average consumer. Writing stories like this can be tough because no one ever gives up their direct handset numbers but I would be willing to bet that if HTC would have skipped the HTC Evo Shift 4G that Sprint/HTC would have still gotten the sales. Perhaps HTC would have lost a handful of customers to the Epic 4G but they would have picked up a bunch more when the Evo 3D came out this year.
It’s not like they’re going to slow things down at all but it would make sense for the OEM’s to take some of this R&D money and skip a device or two to put out one that’s super hot, like the Evo 4G and like we are expecting from the Samsung Galaxy S II next week.
That’s all for now.. just some thoughts…