Is Android arms race stalling the industry?

”This smartphone can survive a fall from x height” or ”This smartphone puts your digital camera out of business”….

While promises like these do attract attention to the product (creates hype), it also increases a chance of under delivering on expectations of the consumer, and thus, betray their trust. It doesn’t require rocket science that brand loyalty is important and plays a mayor role in the success of any profit-conscious company.

The reality is, the average consumer doesn’t care about these things, if the rest of what the device can offer only vaguely impresses. The user looks for something that is more straightforward, yet at the same time more complex to achieve.

What he wants is a consistent product.

There’s a widely occurring theme in the mobile industry that underlines the rotting problem in the industry: the specs arms race. We see dual core processors in mobiles are making their debut this year, with the first one already hitting the market – LG Optimus 2X, with Motorola Atrix closely following on it’s heels. And while this satisfies the geek Android users, the average consumer will be less impressed with the PC-grade performance of their phones if, for example, the manufacturer only bothered installing tiny built-in speakers or a 5Mpix camera that can barely do it’s job even in perfect lighting conditions.

The built quality is important. The camera should be versatile and capable in  a wide variety of usage scenarios. Last but not least, the battery life should be adequate for the multi-tasking capabilities of the device. In short, the phone should be an all around consistent product.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many people rather choose Apple iPhone as their next phone, despite the hefty price tag. It may not have industry leading hardware anymore, but what it offers remains reliable and thoroughly consistent for almost all needs.

It’s hard to change anything on a dime if that’s how the major players in the industry have decided to compete – pumping more RAM and MB’s in their oversized, barely pocketable and all too familiar 4 inch screen monsters. Perahaps it wasn’t even their choice. Although I must admit there was a similar race with Mpix in phone cameras before (settling on the 5Mpix mark for a short while) , in my opinion, the mentioned side effects of Android operating system gaining popularity – specs race –  is far more damaging to the mobile industry. This trend might continue for a while, but rather than landing safely, it will, as with many technology trends, run head first into a wall before making any noticeable changes.

Maybe there’s a greater agenda behind the recently announced partnership between the industry giants Nokia and Microsoft. It’s possible they already foresaw what will happen at the end of the wall.

What are your gripes with current smartphones? Are there any important areas that  you feel are not getting the necessary attention from manufacturers? I’d be interesting to know how you feel about this…

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