Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Android Backlash?

I've been wondering something about the existing consumers of Android devices for a few months, and some recent data may be now be proving it out. My hypothesis is that there may be a large group of users who were lured into buying an Android device under the guise of it being basically the same as an iPhone, but cheaper and in some ways better. They bought into the argument that it's 'more open' and that they would have 'more control'. But no one took the time to explain battery management, or killing background tasks, or security.

Let me take a moment for a brief qualifier. When I refer to 'Android users' here, I'm not talking about the people who root their device, install CyanogenMod, or genuinely prefer Android for all the technical 'freedom' it offers. I'm talking about the average, everyday user. The one who checks their email and browses the web, takes pictures and videos, and just expects things to work. They don't know how fast the processor in their phone is, or how much RAM it has. These average Android users, who bought into the platform early, may be feeling a little burned right now. The vast majority of them have never received an OS upgrade from their carrier. Many of them can't run the most popular apps for the platform, because their device isn't supported.

And that's where we get to the backlash...

Over the next year, a lot of these users are going to be looking for a new phone. In fact, many of them may have been looking for new phones at the end of 2012 (as evidenced by smartphone sales numbers of the quarter). By all reported metrics, the iPhone outsold all Android devices during the critical holiday quarter. I wonder how much a lackluster experience with their first Android phone is going to drive people to a competing platform. I think there may be a large group of disgruntled users who feel like they were deceived by Android marketing, and they might be hesitant to continue with the platform.

I truly believe the Android OS will certainly mature into a fantastic mobile operating system...eventually. Many early reviews of v4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) indicate that great progress has been made to this effect. But in the mean time there may be a difficult road ahead.