Android’s Room for Improvement

Android LogoA lot has been written about the battle that seems to be brewing in the mobile OS world. Which is the better platform for developers? Which is more consumer friendly? Which has the best hardware? Which will be crowned champion? All interesting questions that generate lots of discussion. If history is any indicator, however, the mobile OS that rules will be the one that captures the imagination and therefore the wallet of the average user.

It is in this one particular area that I am a bit concerned about Android.

“Android, and the Droid in particular, are designed for the techie audience,” Palm CEO John Rubinstein said recently as he defended his company’s OS and strategy. Now, on the surface this might look like a desperate attempt for attention by a company struggling in the aforementioned mobile OS wars. Palm is losing market share and a statement by their CEO was needed. But, it stings because it rings true.

Much like the kid who runs off after not being picked for kick-ball by the kid with a substantial profile screams, “I didn’t want to play with you anyway! You have a big nose!!!,” Palm’s accusation stings. Now, I don’t agree wholeheartedly. The OS was designed for everyone, but the marketing around it and the early adopters seem to have a techie bent.

Verizon has done a great job of making “Android” a word most now recognize as something other than a science fiction pseudo-human. I think it’s time someone, T-Mobile perhaps, take Android to the next level and makes it “human”. Commercials that emphasis less mechanics and more memories, less stealth bombers and more something for everyone, are needed.

The switch has to be made from a techie-phone to an everyone-phone and it has to be made quick. Once done, the likes of Palm, Apple and others will no doubt continue to hurl insults. When Android captures the hearts and minds of Average Joe it won’t matter much. We can look down on our worthy competitors from our lofty position high atop the mobile OS standings and proclaim “Sorry, its our ball and we don’t want to play with you.”

  • ari-free

    "but the marketing around it and the early adopters seem to have a techie bent."

    as opposed to Palm's insane and creepy marketing 🙂
    I think google should do something like a firefox flicks campaign. Let the users come out with their own commercials and people would vote for the best ones for Google to air. Except this time, it wouldn't be such a limited TV airing

  • Michael

    "Commercials that emphasis less mechanics and more memories, less stealth bombers and more something for everyone, are needed."

    What do you think HTC is doing with their "You" line of commercials?

  • I think Sony ads are move to the right direction – I'll take pretty chick on a bike over stealth bomber any day 🙂

  • Jose

    BINGO!! I wrote this a while ago. Although the HTC commercials don't really promote Android directly thats EXACTLY what I was talking about!

    YAY for HTC! 🙂

  • Jose

    Pretty chick… plane…………. pretty chick… plane…..

    Hmmmm, Ill get back to you on that one 🙂

  • Jose

    Google isn't marketing Android at all – are they? I like your idea, Ill do a 30 second spot for Google! Google, here I am!!


  • Andrex

    Umm, the MyTouch 3G ads are pretty much just targeted at the layman (or woman.) And as mentioned the HTC ads are fantastic for this.

    • Jose

      You are right about the MyTouch ads – and I LOVE that Cat Stevens song, its catchy! The HTC stuff came out after I wrote this piece. We need more like that though in my humble opinion.

      "If you want to be me – be me…

      And if you want to be you – be you"


  • david_bessire

    Unfortunately, i think Android's problems go beyond marketing…

    1. Need JIT & generational garbage collection in Dalvik. Every time an animation hangs because Android's busy marking-and-sweeping, someone on Apple Insider is noting it down. Every percentage point in performance counts.

    2. Seriously need to address the lingering fragmentation questions, as well as address incompatibilities in the Market pre-download. (Perhaps this is already done.)

    3. Developers continue to gripe about Android market experience – app discoverability, Google checkout, low downloads. Fix the market – again. Apple advertises its apps; maybe Google should start, preferably by highlighting apps which emphasize Android's capabilities lacking on iPhone.

    4. Of course, paltry flash and no-official-apps-to-sd are glaring problems which should receive official support. Google should advise hardware partners to up the ram and solve the sd problem.

    5. And if all else fails, hire Cyanogen & and a top-notch UI guru. Out-Apple Apple. Employ that split A-B testing used to such good effect on the search property. As others have suggested, focus on one thing at a time and polish to high sheen.

    Full disclosure – i don't own an Android phone, or any cell phone for that matter. i'm interested in Android because i can write a Python script on it and access the sensor APIs. i'm a geek. i'm the target audience.

    But the guy sitting next to me at the breakfast counter, swiping away on his iPhone email with stutter-free animations, doesn't care about how many simultaneous processes he can run. He just wants a shiny bauble that looks cool and runs well.

    • Jose

      Wow. Well put David. I can't disagree with a single point. It all comes down everyone wanting a "shiny bauble that looks cool and runs well" doesn't it?

      Hurry up and buy your Android – looking forward to seeing more of your thoughts here on AndroidGuys.

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