“If I cannot overwhelm with my quality, I will overwhelm with my quantity.”
It seems to me as though Google has adopted the philosophy of the 19th century French author, though the company is not dabbling in naturalism, nor is it condoning the liberalization of France.
No, Google is doing something far less paramount. They’re selling a cookie-cutter operating system by using Samsung, HTC, LG and other smartphone juggernauts within the wireless amphitheater as their primary cast members. In fact, they’ve already sniped Motorola as their lead actor, courtesy of a prodigious mountain of Benjamins. But Google’s cast is far too expansive to provide a cohesive, captivating performance that provides us, the consumer, with a gratifying dénouement and visceral catharsis to last us throughout the foreboding course of a two-year wireless contract. Google manages too many half-rate chorus members, backup dancers and understudies rather than amalgamating their collaborative casting efforts into an intimate, star-studded stable of talent. It is the very essence of quantity over quality, when it should be the other way around.
Yes, it seems as though an Android phone is fired out of a panic cannon every 3.8 seconds. I refer to them as Blandroid phones, due to the relative homogenization of their physical appearances and specifications. There is a critical flaw in the philosophy of Android, and that’s the notion that more model choices equal more buyers. After all, when one is bombarded with a particular product repetitively, one will unequivocally assimilate, right?
Bullhonky! When I go to the best restaurant in town, I find solace in a menu that features one chicken entree, one steak entree, one vegetable special, one pasta dish and a scrumtrulescent signature dessert! I applaud the chef’s premier recommendations because I trust the chef, based on the restaurant’s top-notch Zagat reviews and sparkling reputation. If I wanted more choices, I’d head to The Olive Garden for a mediocre Fettuccini Alfredo with capers—an option that I would be hastily forced to make amidst an astronomical parade of menu items so as not to impede the ordering process for the benefit of everyone else at the table. Yet, I never end up precisely ordering what I want at the Olive Garden, and it’s the same thing with Android.
With a nebulous menu of phones that would befuddle an ADD consumptive until the end of time, the entire experience becomes a no-frills, humdrum event. This one has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. This one is the lightest phone of the week. This one shoots craptastic 3D video that renders you cross-eyed. This one looks the same as the older one, but it’s faster. Who give’s a rat’s ass!? If Samsung, HTC, LG and other manufacturers released one flagship phone per year, I guarantee sales would ascend into the stratosphere. If the maximum ingredients of creativity, ingenuity and innovation were added to a single Android phone’s cake batter, it would be the most delectable item in the wireless bakery. Can you imagine one year’s worth of perseverance and meticulousness funneled into the formulation of the ultimate Samsung or HTC device? Cupertino would implode.
But it’s not merely an exercise in volumetric marketing tactics—the hardware is not optimized for the software. Yes, Android operating systems are not designed to run on hardware that morphs and evolves faster than a New England forecast. Whether it was the latest dual-core Snapdragon, power-packed OMAP or cracked-out Hummingbird processor, I have witnessed them all hiccup, sputter and glitch out, in spite of their omnipotent specifications. Force Closing became a regularly occurring event while owning a Samsung Captivate and HTC Inspire 4G, though I never experienced that with my iPhone 4.
And why is that? I feel like a broken record here, but Apple releases one phone per year that specializes in a phantasmagorical design and mates its hardware and software to create the most scrumptious fluffernutter of smartphone goodness anyone has ever tasted. Yes, Apple spends a year sourcing the best materials and punctiliously developing the sound internals of its flagship phone, and, low and behold, the iPhone is still the most popular and beloved model on the market. Samsung, HTC, LG and others need to adopt Apple’s strategy if they want to transcend to the Smartphone Major Leagues. Apple approaches the market in the complete opposite way Android does: Quality over Quantity.
Google recently announced that it was working with Intel on optimizing future versions of Android for Atom processors. I believe this will be Google’s first portal into the Smartphone Major Leagues. Until I see an Android phone with hardware optimized for software, I will continue to award Apple the gilded crown, and remain loyal to Mr. Jobs’ superior lovechild. And regarding physical build, I have seen a Motorola Atrix 4G’s screen shatter from a 2 1/2-foot plummet, a Samsung Captivate’s screen burst from a 3-foot free-fall and an HTC Inspire 4G fry internally after being exposed to a few drops of water. The amount of times I’ve dropped an iPhone or exposed it to aquatic elements far exceeds that of my Android exposures, yet the iPhone always survived with all but a flesh wound.
Quantity over quality also hinders the post-purchase experience as well. I don’t care what brand of Android phone you buy, you simply cannot beat Apple Care. Samsung? HTC? LG? You can’t walk into a physical store and have your Galaxy S II replaced or get the screen fixed on your HTC Thunderbolt. When I see physical Samsung, HTC and LG stores, then I will alter my perspective. Even better—a Google store that offers a rival to Apple care for each and every one of its devices.
In closing, it’s imperative to understand that beyond the world of technology, quality will always triumph over quantity—this is a philosophy that has been proven in the business landscape decade after decade, century after century. Apple releases one phone—One Phone to Rule Them All. And it does. It rules the market, and will continue to do so until the Android world wrangles up its most elite engineers and spends at least a year formulating the smartphone to end all smartphones, only to be surreptitiously released once a year.
Until then, every new Android phone is just another brick in the wall.