The curse of Google?: Android licensees fail to cash in
Brand-slut buyers have no loyalty
Google's Android is now in almost half the world's smartphones – but licensees are finding that quod eos nutrit eos destruit – or what nourishes them destroys them.
Figures from research company Canalys released this week certainly show booming growth in Android devices. Android is grabbing 48 per cent of the smartphone market worldwide, up 379 per cent from a year ago, in a market that is growing like Topsy.
But the success isn't translating to the bottom line – nor is it establishing much of a brand.
One observation caught my eye. Nokia's failure to update Symbian or supersede with something more attractive means its left a vacuum for more competitive products from rivals.
"Samsung has failed to fully capitalise on Nokia's weakened state around the world, as the Finnish company rides out a challenging transitional period," noted Canalys principal analyst, Chris Jones.
Android is very much the "generic" platform, but being generic, it brings no brand sizzle to the manufacturer. Expensive efforts to differentiate their Android handsets from others are turning out to be a waste of time. That was one of Symbian's founding principles, and it's coming true.
Samsung scores highly in user satisfaction surveys, but buyers remain promiscuous – once they have their smartphone, they feel they owe the manufacturer very little gratitude. There's no brand loyalty.
So, when the market stops growing, what will manufacturers do?
It's not as if they'll have built up huge cash warchests. Estimates vary on how much profit manufacturers are taking home: here's a recent one. It's still Apple, and decreasingly, RIM. There's a few pickings for HTC and Samsung. The others, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG, aren't seeing any positive revenue from Android.
Eventually something has to give, because being in business is about profit, not market share. The operators long to fork Android, because they don't want Google creaming off service revenue. I expect this to be a certainty – I only wonder how many forks there will be in this drawer. ®
Windows has raced to 1pc market share – showing how much work Nokia has to do.
"once they have their smartphone, they feel they owe the manufacturer very little gratitude. "
Mainly because the manufacturers screw up their handsets with buggy bloated operator-and-manufacturer-specific apps, interfaces and ad-ware.
Tip for the manufacturers - you want brand loyalty? Install your interface as a removable component. Make it fast, or buy one of the third parties that already make a fast UI and use theirs. Let people uninstall the stuff they don't need. Keep your phones up-to-date software-wise for the length of an average contract. Then your customers will feel some gratitude towards you.
Oh, I forget - the end-users aren't your customers are they, the Operators are... well there's your problem.
Brand Loyalty, what about a bit of customer loyalty?
"Samsung scores highly in user satisfaction surveys, but buyers remain promiscuous – once they have their smartphone, they feel they owe the manufacturer very little gratitude. There's no brand loyalty."
If manufacturers kept up-to-date with the firmwares, I think they would have their brand loyalty.
No Brand Loyalty or Forced Brand Loyalty???
Buy Apple, and you have FORCED brand loyalty, all your apps and music means you can never buy anything from anyone else every again without losing everything you have bought. This is how Apple keeps it's customer base.
Android on the other hand, you buy apps for Android, and you are in no way locked to any device (infact a single app purchase works on ALL your Android devices), this means you are free to switch to a different handset next year from a different manufacturer and not lose your investment..
Surely that's a GOOD thing, consumers have choice, and manufacturers can't get complacent...
The rest of this article is utter tripe. Samsung have gone from nowhere to right at the top fo the mobile tree in a couple of years, Android has turned HTC's and Sony Ericcsons fortunes around drastically...