Where Do We Stand in the Tech Ecosystem? [OPNION]

Fanboys, Enthusiasts, Enablers, Advocates, Supporters, Promoters, or whatever you decide to call yourself today. You are the tech guy (or gal). Those around you look to you for advice, support, and the inside scoop on what’s next. Everyone that fits this description does a variant of what I am doing right now; gathering all the information I can  possibly find, turning it into an opinion. That opinion gets put in blogs, emails, tweets, any anything else that can be seen and it’s broadcast and re-broadcast across the internet. When I see something I find interesting, I see it show up as “new information” in blogs a week later.  So, exactly how far is our reach?

What kind of of power do we have as a collective?  When this group of people is upset about something, does it get addressed? If it gets addressed, who is to say we were the cause? In short, where do we stand?

I asked myself this question twice recently. The first was when the noise surrounding Samsung’s continued delay regarding Android 2.2 on their T-Mobile Vibrant. Vibrant users have been up in arms for what seems like months now, demanding that their phone be updated to support the new features brought about by Froyo. Promise after promise has been broken. It hasn’t felt like that voice, which I have heard almost endlessly, has had any sort of effect on Samsung. The second example is the recent play by Motorola. Their most recent PR statement has left many to believe that we will see less encryption and more support for developers in their upcoming phones. Is it appropriate to say that this dramatic shift in opinion was due to the unhappy Moto modders rising up and demanding change? There’s no right answer. Either of these could be an example of either our lack or our complete effectiveness as a group with a unified opinion.

Let’s break it down to the Android modders and hackers. Currently, it’s reported that there are over 109,000 active installs of Cyanogenmod out there in the world. Huge number right? Let’s exaggerate and say that there is the same number ofpeople out there not running CM, but still not running a stock experience. So, let’s assume that we’ve got almost 250,000 rooted, modded users out there, based on the numbers out there. In December, Google reported 300,000 activations a day. My numbers were intentionally large, and we still don’t take up a full days worth of new users across the world. If that isn’t reason enough to ignore us, how about the users who take their phones back to the carrier after failing to follow directions or following outdated directions when it comes to playing with the stock OS?  It’s clear that we’re not the majority here, right?

Let’s not forget our purpose, though. We absorb all of the latest and greatest in tech and regurgitate it to anyone who will listen, remember? If Moto, HTC, or Samsung upset us, we’ve got a pretty substantial reach. What happens when each of us tells 5 people not to buy product X, and each of them tell 2 other people? We’re not just a mere 250,000 anymore are we? Maybe that is what Motorola has seen, and why we’ve seen statement retractions and promises of more bootloader cooperation? It’s more than a possibility, our voices have been heard.

Maybe what we need isn’t more noise, but organized noise. Perhaps the way to get changes made in this environment is through volume and repetition, constantly commenting and making our opinions heard. The internet is a tool, not a weapon. We have the potential to reach out to the people making the products we enjoy and working together rather than violently messaging the open air in hopes that it will get noticed. Organize, and your voices will be heard.

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  • I agree. With enough united support from the Android Community, we’re a force to be reckoned with. Manufacturers know this. It’s time they made some changes.

    I wrote this Open Letter to Motorola so hopefully they listen, and change the future of Android, because right now, it isn’t looking so hot.

  • Tansen

    I agree with this. These companies want to make money, that is their purpose. However, in order to do that, they need to make products people want to buy. If some would buy their products because they are easy to mod, then they should want to make it possible to do that. People that are uninterested in modding simply DON’T HAVE TO. I don’t understand why we can’t at least have the option… And as for samsungs upgrades… That is seriously frustrating. I feel like the carriers and manufacturers don’t think the people know the difference between eclair, froyo, and gingerbread. The truth is, we do. I think they are finally starting to realize, and get with the game.

  • brunes

    People need to get off of Samsung’s back for issues like the Vibrant update. What people need to realize is, it is not up to Samsung when these updates go out, it is up to the carriers. Get on T-Mobile’s back, not Samsungs.

  • Scmo

    Brunes I’m sorry I don’t usually get on people about stupid comments but you have no grasp of what the issue is at hand. If samsung wanted that update out for people they would have put it out on their website. There is some influence by the carrier but if samsung Really truly wanted you to have the update they can advertise it on their website to download and have it in a more timely fashion. You make a product you stand by it. If I sold potato chips and another potato chip maker had a new barbecue flavor that people seem to like better than the plain ones I sell should the consumer complain to the supermarket that sells my chips about why I don’t have that flavor yet or get mad at me because I promised you id make a new flavor soon but didn’t deliver. I can try to make a more basic analogy if people still want to blame the carriers soley/ignorantly.

  • JoeyAndroid

    I totally agree!

    I call myself a “contributor”.

    An Android Community with orgranized “noise” can really boost the power of an Android Ecosystem.

    I’ve been commenting lately that reports about Android’s future seems to ignore the impact of all the contributors in the Android Ecosystem.

    I think every Android website/blog should have a dedicated section for news/info related to helping the Android Community/Ecosystem.

    I almost bought AndroidEcosystem.com to help guide Wall Street types in the “right” Android direction. But this op inspired me to buy AndroidEcosystem.net instead for the reasons above. It can do even more than guide Wall Street types, it can show them and the world how great the Android community is and the powerful boost it gives to the Android Ecosystem unlike any other.

  • It seems to me that Google’s approach to this is to continue to put pressure on the manufacturers and service providers by continuing its aggressive schedule of releasing OS updates. They are the root cause of the pressure because as soon as they update the OS, it creates expectations from the users that their device will be upgraded.

    This is where the users come in and I like this “Android Collective” or “Android Community” approach to put additional pressure on these companies as well. Certainly we’re in a small minority of people who care enough to read Android specific bogs and tech websites. But I think because we are armed with more knowledge than most, we do have some responsibility for promoting the platform and making our voices heard with respect to key issues like manufacturer updates, custom skins, crapware, etc. These issues impact the Android Community as a whole, but a lot of people are unaware of the impacts or are subject to the resulting confusion.

    Android is a much more powerful OS than iOS from a user perspective. There are so many more options and customization and flexibility with Android. However, this can be a source of confusion if the manufacturers and service providers continue to dilute the Android experience and implement their own “version” of Android, lagging/late updates, and adding a bunch of confusing crapware/skins/etc. on top of a very solid platform.

    I make a concerted effort to show all of my friends and family everything Android can do, and why I think its far superior to iOS. I think as the general population continues to become more tech savvy, more and more people will come to appreciate the power Android offers versus the iPhone. But we have to do our part as fervent Android supporters to keep the manufacturers and service providers in check. We are the ones responsible for making sure these companies are acting in the overall best interest of the platform and broadening its overall appeal, and part of doing that is to make our voices heard regarding some of these important issues. We can help reduce the confusion which results when these companies make poor decisions and hopefully put enough pressure to enact some change.

    We’re in the process of developing our full website, but one of the sections we are incorporating will be dedicated to addressing issues/concerns within the Android community and promoting the Android OS. If we can spread the word to others who then pass it along to their friends and family, we aren’t just a small group of dedicated Android users, but a much larger voice which can hopefully carry some more weight with the phone manufacturers and mobile service providers. One of the strengths of Android is that it is more diverse than other OSes, but that can be a weakness if left unchecked. Websites like Android Guys and others will play a big role in maintaining that balance.