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Android Manufacturers Need to Slow Down [Opinion]

About two months ago my brother decided to switch from Verizon to Sprint as his mobile carrier. He asked me what phone he should get on Sprint. He wanted a stock device because he had a bad experience with a skinned Android device (he was coming from a Droid Eris). I told him that there would probably be a new Nexus device out soon, but if he wanted to get a good device now, the best device would be the Nexus S.

Now that the Galaxy Nexus has been announced, I still feel confident with my recommendation. Why? He has a device that will still receive updates. Despite being almost a year old (from its original release, not the Sprint release), the Nexus S is still a great device.

Google has largely followed the same pattern as Apple in their halo device releases: one device per year. Unlike Apple, however, every Nexus device has been a major update in both software and hardware (though the Nexus S may eventually look like an exception if hardware/software innovation continues at its current rate). Despite the Nexus One being left behind in updates, buyers can be confident that when they purchase a Nexus device, they will have a top of the line device for quite a while. 

Despite this pattern, Android manufacturers have continued to release dozens of handsets a year, many of which are hardly different from the last device. Motorola released the Atrix 2 on AT&T a mere 8 months after the original Atrix was released. The DROID Bionic was released just last month, yet Motorola is already releasing a much better device, the DROID RAZR, next month. Samsung released the DROID Charge in May of this year, but this month has released the Stratosphere – essentially the exact same phone, but with a keyboard. HTC released the Sensation in May of this year and this month has released the Amaze 4G, which is a slightly improved Sensation XE. On top of that, HTC released the Rhyme, which is even more gender oriented than the DROID line of phones, limiting its market appeal.

The same can be said for tablets made by manufacturers. Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and Sony all offer (or will soon be offering) multiple tablet options. Samsung offers the Galaxy Tab in 7, 8.9, and 10.1 inch sizes, Motorola offers the Xoom and the Xoom Family Edition (and soon the Media Edition), HTC offers the Flyer and the Jetstream, and Sony offers the Tablet S and soon the Tablet P. In general, all of these editions of different tablets offer the same operating system on slightly differing hardware (the Tablet P being the one notable exception).

I don’t think that there is a problem with hardware differentiation. In fact, I think that’s part of what makes Android great. If you want a phone that is thin and light or with a horizontal keyboard or a vertical keyboard or a gamepad, you have options (still no vertical slider keyboard though…). If you want a tablet that is a light and good for reading or note taking, you have the Galaxy Tab 7 or the Flyer. If you want a tablet that docks into a keyboard you have the Transformer (has anyone mentioned how gorgeous the Transformer Prime looks?).

That said, I think there is some value to Google’s approach of making one halo device per year. I think the ideal would be for manufacturers to release one device per year, but one per quarter is probably more realistic. Instead of releasing several dozen devices per year that are essentially small iterations on older devices, manufacturers could release only a few devices on every carrier. This would make things easier for journalists that cover Android news, but more importantly, it would help establish brands and names that consumers would better be able to identify with.

I’m guessing that most people who purchased a DROID Bionic are at least a little upset that Motorola is releasing a better device only two months later on the same carrier. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to just cancel the Bionic (a device that many had given up on) or save the RAZR name comeback for another device? The Thunderbolt and the upcoming Rezound are essentially the same story, but HTC didn’t delay the Thunderbolt (which was essentially the HTC Evo on Verizon).

By slowing their releases to four times a year and releasing the same device on every carrier, manufacturers would create a direct relationship with consumers instead of via carriers. Rather than releasing the same device with slightly bumped specifications, manufacturers could release varying form factors to better differentiate. With limited releases, manufacturers would be more encouraged to make each device the best it can be instead of pushing out a poor device only to anger early adopters with a better device a short time later.

Handset differentiation can be a tremendously powerful tool for Google and manufacturers to create devices that meet people’s needs without making them regret not waiting for a better device to be released a few months later. Constant hardware iterations help make Android powerful, but too many differentiations make the platform look confusing and chaotic, especially when they’re from the same manufacturer. There is power in differentiation, but there is also power in simplicity.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly why I’m not settling for anything less than the Galaxy Nexus.  Gives you the most options in ways of customizable roms as well as the latest and greatest updates from Google.  I wouldn’t even look the way of Moto or any other skinned, locked-down device again.

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t have an opinion here, but I would sure love to hear what Bionic customers feel like right now.

    Honestly. What do you guys think about the RAZR?

    • Brice

      I’m a Bionic owner and do not regret my decision because
      it’s been a great phone. Don’t get me wrong, if I was buying a phone today I
      would almost certainly get the RAZR. All you can do when you need a phone is
      get the best available at the time that meets your needs and don’t look back.
      I’d tell my friends when I was showing off my Bionic “This is the best
      phone money can buy, for the next four to six weeks” :-).

  • A3TDI

    I read somewhere that my Tbolt is the worst phone of the year – yet, it’s transformed how I work.  It’s indispensable to me with function no iPhone can match – 4G & tethering + google’s mobile app integration (mail, office, voice) and basic to all the new androids and I don’t care what label is on the phone.  When this one breaks, I get the next.  Full speed ahead.  
    The emphasis on majors updates is much less important than discussed.  While the 1st major update fixed the Tbolt’s problems, the only new function I’ve found is forward camera.  With the fixes, I’m not that concerned about new majors unless there is greater functionality. 

  • Anonymous

    What other product is this really a concern with?  Most people aren’t running out and buying a new car every single year, or if they “need” a new car frequently, they lease.  I don’t even think people are upgrading their computer as frequently as their phone.

    That said, I thought Moto had it right with releasing the Droid and Droid X series phones several months apart.  I think people would be less annoyed if they started a line and just continued making those improvements.

  • Anonymous

    As stated by others the problem is simply support.  They need to release devices at a pace they can be proprly supported.  That means addressing bugs quickly and timely OS updates.  I don’t people about there hardware being outdated to so quickly as much as their software.  Especially since OS updates usually mean more polish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000339025397 Bryce Altair Warren

    As long as they keep updating my device (D3) ill be happy, my worry with the D4 leak is that the wont port over ICS and i will loose out on that and have wasted my money on the D3.

    • Anonymous

      By the time the D4 comes out, the D3 will have been out for (probably) about a year, give or take a month.  How could you consider that “wasting money” when you had the newest Droid w/ physical keyboard for a year, or at least several months?  And updates are never guaranteed.  If you’re that concerned, grab the ROM when it’s released.

  • Morenoc12

    Everybody talking saying bionic people should be mad, when in all reality its not that big of a deal, so the RAZR thinner and has new apps and .2hrtz more, woopty doo get over it people I don’t care!!!! I have extended battery that last all day from 6am to 11pm with plenty of use. And Its so similar to the bionic as are most motorola new phones that they will ge t a batch upgrade like it was for the X, D2 ect. Then theres the X2 & D3 you need to remember not everybody has 4G access so they dont need that fancy new RAZR or bionic or D4 with that 300 dollar price tag. So what if I dont have the newest and nices phone if I thought like that I would have waited for the precious little I*hone and bought that. get it together grow up and stop your whining

    • Morenoc12

      And sadly most won’t see my post or pay it any attention, I liked the site more when everything was about excitement about Android and ROMS and cool new apps or wall papers , cool new themes but I guess this is what makes the money. getting people to you’re site to argue instead of enjoying what we all love

      • Morenoc12

        But then again its not the sites fault that there’s so many little kids that have nothing better to do than argue and troll the Web

        • Anonymous

          Yes, the content is generally good and informative.  It’s the back and forth that can get annoying.  You could always just NOT read the comments.

          • Morenoc12

            I read the comments because some people actually hanger something interesting to say, but lately I have to sort through all the bickering to get to the good comments

      • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

        It’s not about the money at all (I don’t get paid), it’s about addressing market issues.

        • Morenoc12

          Sorry didn’t mean to offend just seams like most sites are posting things to get people arguing now a days.you guys do a great job and I appreciate it this is the #1 Android site for me

          • Morenoc12

            Hahaha and I just remember your not part of the site lol sorry my bad

          • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

            I’m a part of the site (insofar as I write an opinion piece once a week), but that doesn’t mean I get paid. :)

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch Judah Richardson

    The more the merrier to me, I don’t see what the issue is.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Ron, I got your back!

  • http://twitter.com/Epitrepontes Epitrepontes

    The two real problems I have with the pace of phone releases: 1) fragments the indy/root dev community, 2) indirectly lowers quality and raises costs of phones.

    I can live with 2), but if they spent less money marketing and tweaking 12 models a year and made 4, the phones would likely be better and there wouldn’t be as much fluff expense for coming up with a slightly different look for 8 more models.

    1) is the real killer to me.  It’s not “boo hoo” my phone isn’t the coolest.  I hung on to my OG Droid long after it was cool, but it was still a pretty solid everyday phone. I like my phones to continue to grow a bit with ROMs to keep up with better apps even on 1yr+ old hardware.  Still, the dev community is largely driven by cool and wow, and having the latest and greatest, so some good phones wind up with no devs left 6 months after they were the hot item.

    It’s good there’s choice and hype, but I agree with the article that it winds up being carrier hype, and the actual handset manufacturers in racing to get so many out are losing their voice and identity by creating three tweaked out versions to meet carrier demands for having something to hawk.

  • Anonymous

    tiny.cc/qcfnd

  • Anonymous

    Wow retards, just because you can’t afford the best device all the time you want to slow them down for others who are waiting for better phones? STFU and go buyabdump phone idiot. Just because you are butthurt because a better phone phone came out after you bought yours you make an idiot comment but the real retard is the one that decided to publish your narrowminded whining opinion.

  • BK

    Another thoughtful and thought-provoking post on droid-life. I entirely agree – I would get much more excited for a small number of well-crafted, stable, and (relatively) future-proof devices than the current onslaught of 50% junk, 35% meh, 15% whoa phones. I vastly prefer the choices that Android brings, but I think Google should be concerned about overwhelming customers. As it stands, it feels like you need to constantly stay on top of news and rumors just to be sure you’re making an solid and informed decision about how to spend your hard earned money.

    • Anonymous

      “Too many cooks in the kitchen” comes to mind…  If Google allowed some kind of exclusivity to manufacturing the phones, that might narrow things down… 

  • Anonymous

    I have two high end phones, the Thunderbolt and Thrill 4G, one has Gingerbread (Thunderbolt) while the Thrill 4G came with 2.2 Froyo, and we’re STILL waiting on Gingerbread for it. Well, now Google release ICS, putting the Thrill 4G two generations behind in the OS, a phone that has a dual core cpu, dual channel ram and 3D.  What I, and many others are upset about is the maufacturers seem to run the show when it comes to OS rollout, Google should be in charge and tell them what to do, not the other way around, and roll out new OS’s to ALL capable devices in a timely manner.  I am not big on the iPhone, but at least with it you can depend on getting the newest OS for your model, even if it’s a generation behind.  Android is awesome, I wouldn’t go back to Apple for anything, but this hodgepodge of different OS versions and interfaces is doing a lot of harm I fear in the eyes of consumers, heck, it’s ticking off several of us techies. Google, take charge of the show NOW!

    • Anonymous

      Okay, another example, let’s say I put together a new, high end pc today.  Windows 7 is the current OS, but Windows 8 will be out soon, am I going to be out in the cold waiting on Windows 8 when it comes out?  Only if I choose to be, and unless you have a computer more than a few years old you will be able to get the SAME OS as everyone else.  Now, why can’t Android be like that?  It’s beginning to really frustate me the way they are just letting the whole thing run amok.  I certainly don’t want Apple’s closed model, but I don’t want a free for all either.

    • Anonymous

      Only you “techies” care about updates, the average consumer doesn’t give two shits as long as their phone works and does what they bought it for.

      • Anonymous

        I beg to differ, consumer DO care about it.  People aren’t dumb, they know more about this stuff than you give them credit for, and they ask “so I just bought my new phone, and this ICS has a feature I really need, why can’t I have it too?”.

        • Anonymous

          It’s a mess, I’m sorry, but Google needs to take control here.

        • Anonymous

          No, most people are not at all like that.  Most of the people at my job are not techies though many of them own smartphones and almost none of them know about upcoming updates or ICS.  Most people are not at all like you people here, foaming at the mouth demanding updates and ICS before it’s even been released by Google.

          • Anonymous

            Foaming at the mouth?  What have you bee reading, the Enquirer? LOL Geez, relax :D

          • Anonymous

            You must be new.  Lots of people are freaking overzealous drama queens here.

  • Vire

    Well, give this about 6 more months and the whole point will become moot when the phones themselves hit a hardware plateau in much the same way that computers did for years. It will get to be to the point where all phones come decked out with a quad core processor and 2-4 gigs of RAM. At that point, we’ll all be buying based on form-factor and software perceived update schedule. It’s no secret that every non-Google device blows, no matter how fast they develop. Those “pretty” skins come at a price to the customer, as a general rule of thumb, in performance, usability, and upgrade life.

    I for one, am looking forward to the Galaxy Nexus. It will be a solid phone, and meet its future proofing requirements for me.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      I think things have plateaued quite a bit for phones, but at the same time there have been innovations in processors despite the inability to clock them faster. There may not be a massive different between the original Core 2 Duos and the new Core i5s, but it’s enough to where I won’t buy a device with a Core 2 Duo. 

  • http://twitter.com/IBelieveinSteve Steve Peter

    I don’t think slowing down is necessarily the right way to put it. Smart phone manufacturers need to be more FOCUSED. Branding is important – seriously what does Droid even mean anymore? There have been so many Droids – some awesome, some awful. What are Droids known for? That’s a hard question to answer, and it shouldn’t be.

    The Nexus branding is as close as Android gets to what iPhone has. Nexus means something. It means a stock Google experience with the newest features that will be up to date long into the future. There is room in the market for differentiation, but it should be done with vision. I don’t think people would be so concerned about the “next big thing” if their phone was both unique and well-built. I agree that Bionic owners have reason to be annoyed because they have nothing that holds up on its own against the RAZR.

  • Sputnick

    I agree with the article.  Manufacturers need to slow down…put out quality instead of throwing darts hoping something will stick.  Motorola and HTC have damaged their reputations this year with the TBolt and Bionic.  If I were a manufacturer, I would create a series of phones like BMW does cars….a 3,5, and 7 series if you will.  A low, medium, and high end line of phones.  Not only that but I’d offer optional/downloadable launchers on their websites.  Customization is Android’s strength…USE IT!!  Differentiate yourselves in the marketplace with customizations that the users control…make it THEIR phone, not what you think the phone should be.  Instead of throwing phone after phone out there…create an environment where people can change up their phones.  Mind you I’m talking about your Joe Schmoe user that has no idea what rooting is.  I also think Samsung has done the best job Marketing to women….HTC hasn’t been too bad.  But Motorola’s Droid marketing seems to target 20 something males.  Women don’t generally like the look of Moto phones but like Apple and Samsung.

  • angermeans

    This was a good read and I am always for a great article that sparks a valid argument in the android community. I have to say that I don’t fully agree with you though. I don’t think the problem(s) lies in too many devices, instead in the manufacturors of said devices. If a company like motorola or samsung wants to crank out a dozen so called “high end” devices all with small differences then so be it, but they really need to morally keep these devices running the newest android os at least for a year if not more. The is no reason that Samsung can release a new device running android 2.3 and still have a phone that sold millions on 2.2. They need to take care of their customers or they will go elsewhere. On top of that there is no reason that a multi billion dollar company like HTC, Motorola, and samsung can’t release a phone running the newest android version I mean its been 16 months since froyo yet a lot of phones like the bolt and charge launched as the premier 4G LTE device on americas largest wireless network running an outdated os by over a year. There is no reason for that. Google has lived up to their word and since froyo has released only one android update per year (honeycomb the exception). Manufactorers too often wait to update their 4-6 month old device because they feel it will effect sales. Their should be a responsibility to their customers from the oems and wireless providers. Not to mention the phones being launched not only have an outdated os but in the case of HTC (thunderbolt) and Motorola (Droid x, x2, Droid 2, and 3) they are launching horribly buggy phones that are borderline unuseable. Then they make promises (xoom) to maintain large sales that they have no intention of keeping. I lobe android and can’t imagine using anything else, but I am on my last

  • chad

    Android phone development needs to slow down don’t very me wrong I want to beat up every iPhone user, but we need to focus on quality brand phones with better cameras steamline the OS across the board. In order to rain supreme this has to be our goal in 2012

  • Justin Kos

    imo, slow down hardware and optimize your software more
    i feel some phones look downright amazing, but lack the software to really bring out the best

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    I don’t think they need to slow down — not that I like it, but I don’t care. What we really need, however, is an expanded “Nexus” program. You see, just as Google had explained it, “Nexus” is like a competition to get the honor to manufacture a Google phone that features the latest Android OS. Every year, only 1 manufacturer will receive that honor. Therefor, we end up getting 1 phone. If you happen not to like that single phone (ex, you want a physical keyboard), you are doomed.

    So, what if Google expand the “Nexus” program so that each participated manufacturer will get a chance to make their own Nexus phone, but all under Google’s control. Each manufacturer can submit multiple concepts to differentiate it from other participants and Google gets the choice to select which concept to be implemented. In addition, each manufacturer’s Nexus will also bear the brand of their makers. For example, Samsung might choose to make a super-thin Nexus with the best AMOLED calling using the Galaxy Nexus brand, Motorola would make a Nexus Droid/Milestone that has a physical keybaord, while Sony would make a Xperia Nexus that has physical game controls. Wouldn’t this be even better than having just 1 Nexus per year?

  • chip chipperson

    No they need to stop molesting the os with their SHIT software that slows the system down, and allows the mfg and carriers to delay updates for months or abandon the devices all together.  SENSE- BLUR,touchwiz Etc all needs to be gone, Its hurting the platform.

  • Kierra

    #firstworldproblems So apt for this article 

  • Sp4rxx

    I don’t think it is a matter of going too fast – it appears that they are building/releasing phones that appeal to different people.

    I don’t remember the exact article from BetaNews.com, but they said that ATT released 3 new Android phones ranging from the beginner user to the advanced user.  Yes, it seems quick after the Bionic, but remember it was delayed and scrapped and delayed again (or however the 9-month hiatus was).

    To those who just bought/upgraded w/in the last 6 months, you may seem jilted b/c it seems that your device may have been forgotten in all the hype surrounding the latest and greatest.  For those of us who have yet to upgrade, we are excited to see the newest product.

    Technology as a whole is moving fast – no matter if it’s a tablet, phone, car or computer – you will never have the latest and greatest.

    It comes down to the consumer – and manufacturers are watching and (somewhat) listening – i.e. HTC and Google/Samsung – to them and developing new technology based on need.

    For those who just upgraded – just think, you will have the latest in a couple of years – then those who haven’t will, then back and forth.  There’s really no such thing as “the latest and greatest” anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/Jamesdw24 Dillon wright

    I think they should slow down or try to have up to date software to phones but thats the problem, my droid incredible is one and a half years old and probably wont get gingerbread let alone ice cream sandwich.

  • Anonymous

    In a way, I agree with this.  I’ve held off on countless upgrades because I’m always waiting for the “next big thing.”  Just when I think it’s here, something else pops up.  I may just hang on to my Droid X until it dies and sink my money into the Transformer Prime.

    • Anonymous

      This is EXACTLY how I feel. My Droid X Running CM7 feels smooth, snappy, and is very customizable. I don’t find myself in urgent need of an upgrade; I just WANT one. Let’s be honest here, there is a difference between a NEED and WANT. That said, I would love to have the Transformer Prime; it’ll be cheaper than getting the high-end phone off contract(since we DXers aren’t yet eligible for an upgrade discount).

      • Anonymous

        Running Apex 2.0 RC4 myself.  Really enjoying it.  Smooth as butter. I may have to check into CM7, though.

      • Anonymous

        I have a Droid Eris, I could keep this phone forever(because of cm7 with 2.3.4) but seeing all my friends running around with their Thunderbolt or Droid Inc and having no idea how to use the damn thing pisses me off. I wanna show off how much better mine is, but then they are like, “Isn’t that like 2 years old…” Grrrr…they don’t understand roms and the power they hold =)

        Soon the Galaxy Nexus will be mine, and all will tremble at Android 4.0!!! MUHAHAHAHAHA

        • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

          I loved the Eris form factor (except for the power button and end call button being the same…), but it ran horribly slow with Sense. 

          • Anonymous

            I agree with the power button and end call button, launcher pro solved my worries with sense, just replace the damn thing haha

  • Bxrider117

    This is what set Apple on a higher standard, they don’t have a plethora of models out at one time. I do think slowing down may or may not impede progress. But in a case of this year with phones being released and then a newer version with the updated Os coming out 6 months later. That is the manufacturer and carrier abusing the consumer. And if you want to upgrade then you have to pay full price and you can not leave cause you have to pay an etf of $350+. If you don’t pay the fee then you can’t port you number to the new carrier. You should at least be able to upgrade at a subsidized rate. Instead of $299 then pay $399 for an early upgrade.

  • Anonymous

    The RAZR is better spec wise but for those who prefer removable micro SD storage and battery the Bionic is essentially the ‘better’ phone and likely will compete alongside future releases for a long time (which the author recognizes). So yes we all want to be happy with our purchases but this article blames it on buyers remorse which is the pretty much the end user’s problem not Android’s. I’m not a fan of the Bionic or any device that has been released since my Droid X but the beauty of Android is freedom of choice. I guess you can’t make everyone happy.

  • Kakashiisagod

    A major player here is perceived value. Apple releases one phone a year, while several android phones are coming out on what seems like a monthly basis. For the average consumer of smartphones (college hipsters) an iphone gives them a years worth of braging rights in their circle of ignorance. People like to show off; average person on my campus doesn’t even know what a dual core processor is anyway.

  • Anonymous

    It’s even more crazier with Android tablets.  The sad part is that I feel more confident with my HP touchpad then any thing else because the Cyanogen team is working on it.  Heck, ICS could be released on the HP touchpad before it’s released on the Xoom or Galaxy tabs.  
    But on the phone side I see Motorola releasing too much on the same carrier.  I’m cool with releasing different phones on different carriers but I was shocked to see a keyboarded Razr (aka Droid 4) a few hours after the Razr preorders started.  The Thunderbolt is still HTC’s flagship phone on Verizon since February.  The Droid Charge is still Samsung’s flagship Verizon model.  But Motorola is just insane and I’m a Droid X user.   I made a joke yesterday that we would see another Motorola model in 2 months.  But it only took 12 hours!  

    And please don’t beat me up for saying this but at least with the iphone I know it’s going to take them almost a year to release another phone. The problem with the iphone is that the Razr, the Rezound and the Nexus kills that phone hands down with larger screens and LTE.  

    My only hope is for the Samsung Nexus just from a support point of view.  Motorola has too many phones to update to ice cream sandwich.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/mariafe.c.oneill Maria Fe Camaya O’Neill

    You have got to love all the choice we get with Andriod phones but i agree that there is some truth to having to much of a good thing. OEM’s need to tone it down a bit and lose the phones that only have the most minor differences and release the top end phones a year apart. The way they do it now seems to dilute the value of the Andriod brand and only makes the latest phones from the consumers perspective to be ‘just another Andriod phone’.

  • http://twitter.com/BrandoHD Brandon Peters

    I agree, they are moving too fast, there are too many devices that are too similar that are being released too close to each other on the same carrier, Motorola is especially guilty of this, from the Bionic to the Razr with the Atrix 2, I mean that’s ridiculous, that’s too many, and it’s just flooding the market and creating an update nightmare for the customer’s and more so for the manufacturers. I agree with a phone per quarter, Lets be realistic, in 2 weeks time, which device are we going to call Motorola’s “flagship” device

    HTC also got in on the madness with the Amaze, and the Sensations, I mean really, slow down and create some brand recognition, Android would be better off for it, If you want, you can have a low range, a medium and a high end,then improve on those in maybe three months time, as it is now, I really think it’s particularly dumb.

    People are not seeing that these manufactures are just trying to capitalize on android in the wrong way, are these phone even selling that much, create a image, create mystery, that only comes from having more supply than demand, not the other way around, they are creating an environment for burnout

    The ironic thing is, the same people who support the flood, are the same ones who come back to complain when the Razr is updated but not the Bionic and so forth and so forth

  • Jared Duquette

    I believe this to be a fantastic opinion post when viewed from the perspective of the consumer.  

    To clear the air first: this would perhaps impede progress and cutting edge advancements; however, there would be many positive befits:

    As one who is interested in technology and their phone it can be daunting and difficult to purchase when fearing if the phone you buy will be the solid investment that is desired.  Will  that handset be updated until your contract expires?  Will you suffer fragmentation and frustration or will you be able to have the device that you want, with the keyboard or not, the screen, the size, the battery, the brand and STILL have updates, STILL feel like what you purchased was worth the money?  

    If the answer is no, you were out-matched by a similar device that was better that got the focus from the community that you did not, why upgrade so quickly?  Why not hold onto that old device?  

    This raises a good question: when do I upgrade?  Can I see myself, my phone, my life in one year?  In two?  How can I make a choice?

    Good article. 

    • Alan Paone

      I don’t think this would impede progress at all. The nexus S is still one of the most cutting edge phones out there. I switch from an Atrix to it, because even though its short a core, its faster, it has a better camera, it has a way better screen, it has nfc. The atrix is the best example of cutting edge sucking, the screen is qHD, and higher res than everyone else, but it blows chunks; the dual core processor isn’t faster than a hummingbird or snapdragon S2 (in real world usage), the only thing it does do faster is burn through battery. We’re getting a lot of this because the manufacturers are scrambling over eachother to make better phones on paper, but worse in actual use.
      I’d say the Gnex is in line with a decent pace of innovation over the nexus S, is it behind other phones in any real way? 
      Wouldn’t it be cool if manufacturers focused on making phones that are definitely better than the other ones?

  • Anonymous

    Companies do not need to release a new phone every month

  • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

    I think this explains how there are now more smartphones than humans on the planet.

  • Benjamin Landwehr

    So much complaining..

    As Louis CK says, “We have everything, but nobodies happy.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk

  • Anonymous

    …and the childish, immature whining continues.

  • Ricky Grundy Jr.

    great read.

  • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

    Let’s take a tally of quality Android phones this year for Verizon

    HTC T-Bolt = nice if you use a phone 30 mins a day
    Droid Charge = nice but will never get updated
    LG Revolution = *yawn*
    Droid X2 = nice but no LTE
    Droid 3 = see DX2
    Droid Bionic = delayed, scrapped and rebuilt 9 months later = huge bug in some but very nice eventually
    Droid Razr = nice but will ship with old OS
    HTC Rezound = nice but will ship with old OS
    Droid 4 = see Razr and Rezound

    ANYONE SEE A PATTERN HERE?!

    • Anonymous

      You have to figure though that the acquisition of moto by google may change the amount of time it takes for  the phones to be updated, atleast that is what everyone hopes.

      • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

        I would love to see Google get involved in hardware but frankly I don’t see them using Motorola outside the courtroom. 

        I really do hope I’m wrong though

        • Anonymous

          I just meant by giving moto a little nudge saying come on you have to do better with your updates.

          • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

            It would be easier if they shipped with stock Android  :-)

          • Anonymous

            Yes it would but we know how much the OEM’s love adding their skins to the phones.

    • Benjamin Landwehr

      Haha what?  For Droid 3, see Bionic.  Or vice versa.

  • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

    So everyone who disagrees with this article likes to pay full price (retail or contract) then 3 months later a BETTER phone for the SAME price is released – and you’re all OKAY with that?

    Then the joke’s on you for being a foolish consumer. 

    • Anonymous

      Or you sell the phone and it is like you are getting the newer phone for upgrade price without signing a contract.

    • Anonymous

      Only people who have to have the latest and greatest or who can’t stand contracts pay full price, everyone else pays the subsidized price.  If you pay full price you can always sell it and recoup most of your money to get the next latest and greatest, that’s the name of the game.  What, you honestly think something isn’t going to come out better than the Galaxy Nexus a few months after?  Seen the Galaxy S III?  There’s always something better coming out, deal with it.

      • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

        I’m not saying there’s a phone that future proofs itself longer than 3 months, frankly it seems that only lasts 3-4 weeks these days.

        But you (or anyone else) can’t tell me it doesn’t rub you in any way – it’s not for the specs on the new phone, it’s the fact that the value of the old one drops faster than cars.

        Besides, if all the phones I listed were great then it’s a moot point. But honestly, almost every VZW high end phone has sucked royal ass this year (one way or another). And the only “fix” is the newer device instead of a fix to the current model. And you’re stuck with a dud. And rather than concentrate on the next model I wish these OEMs would concentrate on fixes and updates to their prior models.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O7TYSB7ORORYCHYZP4IFD57NDY Pabst

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article. 100%. If there’s anything that Google and the OEMs can glean from Apple’s strategy with iOS and the iPhone is to not flood the market quite so much with all these barely different devices. It just confuses most non-techy consumers who just want a phone that works, so they say “screw it” and go Apple. It’s comically ridiculous that Moto released the Droid X2 in Spring (sans LTE), the Droid 3 in Summer (again sans LTE), the Bionic in Fall, the Droid RAZR two months later, and now the Droid 4? WTF are Sanjay and Moto smoking? Pick a f’ing flagship phone for each carrier and stick with it for 6-8 months for god’s sake! There’s absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have stuck with the Droid X2 and then gone to the RAZR or the Droid 4. The Bionic and the Droid 3 should have been scrapped. And that’s just one manufacturer on one carrier! The carriers should either bring back 1-year contracts or urge the manufacturers to slow it down a bit, because it sucks to buy a product on a 2-year agreement only to have it be completely obsolete in 2 months.

    Also the custom skins have got to stop. I went through 3 Droid X’s due to Moto and their crapstatic Blur software. My local store finally got me into a Thunderbolt a few months, which I’m much happier with, especially since yesterday’s major OTA update makes it the phone it should have been at launch. Sense isn’t terrible. It’s easily the best OEM UI out there but even though Android is open source, I really wish Google would strongly emphasize to OEMs to abandon custom skins starting with ICS. I know most fanboys will say “just root and ROM your phone” and I’ve done that before. I just don’t think I should have to do that as a consumer to have my phone work the way it was intended. And kill the goddamn carrier-added bloatware. I find it asinine that if I buy a brand new device at a $300 2 year contract subsidized price that I have to void my warranty to remove all the device lagging crapware the carriers insist on pre-installing.

    In short, my next device will be of the Nexus variety or if Google kills off Blur and goes pure Android with their aquisition of Moto. God knows Moto makes sexy hardware, it’s just too bad their software is rubbish.

    • Alan Paone

      The evo was still one of the best selling phones in the US, even when the evo 3D came out the following year, just because it was the flagship. It got updates ridiculously quickly and was generally awesome. follow that model OEMs!

      • Sputnick

        Or the Galaxy line which is consistent from carrier to carrier with the exception of radios and the name.

  • http://twitter.com/dcdevito Dominick C DeVito

    I agree with you Ron. These OEMs need to slow down, delay launches, and get devices out with the new OS> I think we can all agree Android’s biggest problem is fragmentation, but the OEMs should look no further then themselves to see who’s to blame.

    If Google releases one phone a year, then manufacturers should take note, it’s completely out of hand now and it only makes Google look worse.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re talking about slab phones, then yes, there is a glut.  How many touchscreen Android phones with near-identical hardware and near-identical software (aside from OEM skins) can the market support?
    On the other hand, we could use more high-end sliders.  I was very happy to see the photos of the Droid 4, and to learn that it’s coming soon.  The number of dual-core Android phones with LTE and physical keyboards is currently zero.  In a month, it will be one.  That’s not too many.  It’s too few.

    We could also use more high-end, vanilla Android phones.  If Google were to release every Nexus phone with a physical keyboard variant, then I might agree with the author…

  • Anonymous

    I think that they should definitely update phones for 18 months, but that’s asking for a lot.  1 year is probably good, I’ve never “needed” gingerbread on my OG.

  • Tyler

    I think manufacturers need to mass sell devices either at summer time and/or thanksgiving time. Then you will know you are getting the best device possible without being screwed over a couple months later. They need to keep all the devices with the same specs for easy update process. That doesn’t mean we don’t need options such as sliders vs slab and such but less small changes to phones. And release date for devices too, don’t delay info from us so much, announce the phone give us a pre-order and release the phone when its ready. Now i know none of this is possible due to the fact that life cant be that easy but a man can dream. Why can’t all phones be set up like the RAZR for info and distribution method. /end of rant looking forward to my SGN.

  • Fastflavz

    Get da iphonze. Adude suxs.

  • Anonymous

    100% agree.. this is a case of less is more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=710530141 Tyler Buchanan

    This is the worst article I’ve ever read on this site.  So each carrier releases one phone a quarter, so Ron doesn’t want to go cry because a new, improved phone comes out after.  Now let’s say you have an upgrade two months after the last major release.  Now you’re stuck either waiting a month, or getting a two month old phone.  With the current release cycle, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be getting a new phone whenever you’re eligible to upgrade, AND when a new improved phone comes out, guess what, YOU STILL HAVE THE EXACT SAME PHONE.  My Bionic won’t get any worse when the RAZR comes out.  So someone else has a “better” phone than me, that’s great!  It means that my next phone will be better than theirs!  And that’s just how the cycle goes.

    • Anonymous

      no if you could read you would see he said manufacturer each making 1 or 2 phones a quarter. That adds up to about 6-8 phones a quarter. Your bionic was bad from the start and no it won’t get any worse just wont get any better since it won’t be updated and will remain buggy.

      • Anonymous

        Wow, you’re truly an idiot.

        • Anonymous

          nope that is you=)

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      The worst you’ve ever read on the site? That’s quite the honor. Thank you :)

  • czechm8

    Since when are More choices a bad thing?  Think of it as mass-marketing.  You vote with your purchase.  Those that don’t sell will not be offered again. Those that do sell well get the most attention (Droid, Nexus, etc.).

    • Anonymous

      Yeah but slapping them out and not properly supporting them because you are busy making the next better phone is the issue.  If Moto (or any other manfacturer) put out 3 phones at a crack and then upgraded all 3 of them within 90 days of a new OS release, I don’t think this article would have been written.

  • Anonymous

    Great article! I always enjoy reading the opinions of those that keep us updated at DL.  I know how frustrating it is to know a better phone is around the corner all the time just by visiting here.  I always do my research and buy a phone that does everything I need it to when I buy it.  Then I wait for a phone that is significantly updated in my opinion. 

    You can pretty much ignore manufacture sequels as being significant updates.  Example Droid X to Droid X2 because of the quick turn around time.  To me an update adds features such as LTE or NFC.  It also improves where I see flaws, such as app storage.  Move to SD has helped, but internal app space is still limited to a partition on my phone (under 1GB).  An improvement would be not having to worry about app storage, or being able to truly expand to what I want/need.

    Thanks for the opinion articles DL, they keep us thinking and keep us from becoming DROOOIIIIIDS.