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frankspin

HTC is going to be making fewer devices in 2012 in favor of quality. Good move or bad move?

This is a bit old as it came out last week but HTC has said they are looking to make less devices to try and find that special device. Motorola has also said they are planning to do this. This just leaves Samsung as the only other major Android manufacture who goes overboard on Android releases.

Overall do you think this is a smart move for not just HTC but handset manufactures in general? If you take Motorola over the past couple months they released the Razr, Razr MAXX and then the Razr Developer edition. That's three variants of one phone which to the general consumer is not that big of a deal but it does upset people when they spend $299 on a phone only to see a better one come out less than 6 months later.

If HTC, Moto and Samsung moved to a model similar to Apple where one stand out device comes out every 12-18 months would you be happy? Take it one step further what if they offered an entry level ($99), mid level ($149) and top tier ($299) on that same cycle to allow for more options would this be better; I understand that is kind of what is happening now but I'm talking this would be 3 phones across all four US providers not 10+.

I think no matter what happens they are realizing more does not always mean better.

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20 replies
nitehawk

I have been saying this for the past year. FRAGMENTATION IS NOT GOOD IN THE SMARTPHONE MARKET! If companies aren't making money, they won't make quality products year after year. Making 12 versions of the same basic product, some with a keyboard, some bigger, etc. decreases the profit margin for a company. Making 2 or 3 versions of the same basic product allows a company to make more money. Without these companies making money they will not innovate and compete as heavily as they currently do.

Due to the fact that a person who gets a new Android phone will only have the top of the line hotness for about 3 months, iPhone has re-taken over the reigns of the most popular mobile OS. Yes it's also because iPhone is on more carriers, but simplicity is a big issue with people who don't want to learn what's up with Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Mango, etc when their friend simply has iOS. I venture that most people don't care about operating system, they just want their phone to work and be simple.

Android phones change so much so quickly. They will continue to lose market share because of this. Apple has Airplay and no company will make a stereo dock for the HTC (fill in the blank) 2 because the phones don't have the legacy and ability to cross platform that iPhone has. I love bluetooth too, but more options is better than less. Having an iPhone means you have no trouble finding a charger if you are low on battery. The chargers and cases are cheaper and there are more options. It also means that you can easily put your music on countless stereos wherever you go.
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jslick

I wanted to highlight a really good point you made. "I venture that most people don't care about operating system, they just want a phone to work and be simple."

Over the past little while, I've noticed that most people are not very tech savvy (they hardly know how to do things that we would consider common knowledge) and we already know the natural trait of people not liking to learn new things. This is why the iPhone does so well. It is simple so there isn't much to learn and like you said it doesn't change every two weeks.

Isn't the whole point of a smart phone to make your life easier and more simple? Well, I don't get that feeling with my Android phone and I also have an iPod touch, so I am in somewhat of a position to compare.

And obviously if you are a manufacturer of accessories you are going to prefer the more stable release cycle of the iPhone.
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jeffkoe

Most smartphone users want simplicity, but how do you account for all the Android handsets out there? I think there is clearly a market for choice of form factor and customization options. Personally, I find the Nexus line appealing because the basic interface stays the same, yet you have the ability to heavily customize. I know it may sound antiquated, but I enjoy my Nexus One. Small formfactor, and Cyanogenmod allows me to do whatever. HTC also provided very nice, high quality accessories.
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timchoi89

I think it's great that HTC is releasing less phones since, like you said, most of the many phones that they release are just slightly modified versions of a base phone. I also agree that a manufacturer should release all the different variations at the same time so that people may make the right choice when buying the phone.

Also, another interesting point, we may not find a point in Samsung releasing 5+ different galaxy models in the US but, when I was in HK & Philippines, I noticed that it actually makes sense for Samsung to have so many variations since people actually want different choices there. In Hong Kong I saw a bunch of people with the Note or the standard GSII. In Philippines, my younger cousins would rather get the Galaxy Y rather than the GSII since the Y targets the youth demographic. This also goes for the different tablet sizes as I saw many different people with varying sizes of the Galaxy Tab.
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frankspin

Good point about over seas markets. However you don't think they can pull that off with the three model option I suggested?
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timchoi89

I think the 3 model suggestion would be good for each model line. For example, there could be the Galaxy S Slow, Galaxy S Medium, & Galaxy S Premium which can be catered to adults rich and not-so-rich. Then there could be the Galaxy Y Slow, Galaxy Y Medium, and the Galaxy Y Cool Teen Edition.

This way, a company can target specific demographics (S for adults and Y for youth for example) yet offer three different choices at different price points.

It's also important to offer all the different choices at the same time so people won't feel shafted a couple months later (similar to how the Razr Maxx came out 2 months after the Droid Razr).
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nitehawk

This goes back to my first point. Fragmentation is only good for the consumer in the short term. 3-5 phones per year per manufacturer is likely profitable. 10-12 phones is certainly not and Android continues to systematically update software because of this fragmentation. I'm sure people who spend the time to figure out the slight differences between the phones have their favorite model, but similar to buying a new tv, a new anything is better than what you were previously using so less choices is not only less confusing to the consumer, but more profitable to the companies.

Then the Samsungs and HTCs know what works and will put more money into "winning products" rather than not making money and failing to push the envelope of what is possible in a phone.
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mjpuczko

i think it's a great idea. i feel like the android phone market is so saturated. my friend was looking for a new phone for his wife and sent me a few android phones that VZW had. i consider myself pretty on top of gadgets & had never heard of two of the phones. it's crazy.
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frankspin

Same thing happened to me. I sent my friend a link about the Droid 4 coming out soon and he just responded with "I can't keep up with all this droid stuff".
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EBone

Apple seems to be doing quite well selling one new version of their phone each year. Why waste R&D money on six different handsets in a 12 month period?

Another good way is to release the same phone for all the carriers (CDMA version for Verizon the exception of course). Rebranding the same phone with different textures and different names for each carrier is just a waste of money, not to mention confusing.
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jeffkoe

I agree. I think, though the problem is that the Carriers insist on their own distinct itineration of every device.
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EBone

The manufacturers are going to have to stand up to the carriers like Apple did and insist that the hardware is the same across the board. It would also help with the issue of getting necessary security patches out in a timely manner. The following article is just an example of how hard it's going to be to patch one security hole across multiple devices:

technolog.msnbc.msn.com­/­_news­/2012­/02­/02­/10300096­-...
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jeffkoe

Scarey stuff that article. Thanks for the link.
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groovechicken

Yes, it will be great, and the main reason is one that hasn't been mentioned yet... FCC approval. Every new design has go through the FCC approval process, which means wasted money, time, and resources at the manufacturer. If they can make fewer phones for each carrier, they can focus on getting each one right. Of course, whether or not they use the same body across all the US carriers won't matter, though, since each of those would still have to go through FCC approval separately unless they used the identical multi-band chipset on more than one carrier. If they are going to go through that anyway, they may as well bow to carrier pressure on making a slightly different body since it doesn't save them any time using identical bodies in the event that the internals are not 100% identical.

The other reason this would be good is so that they could streamline and improve their support chain. Fewer models means fewer support manuals.

In the end, I think quality control drives some of this model multiplication. Every phone from every manufacturer has one issue or another when it is first released. When the problems are identified, they update chipsets or change the buggy component and then they will have to get it approved by the FCC all over again. I'm sure they figure if they have to go through that hell again anyway, they might as well just redesign the board too and throw on whatever the latest parts are at the time as way of enticing upgrades.

There are a lot more factors that go into the decisions behind these changes than just wanting to sound like the latest and best gadget. I would wager that reducing the model count won't affect the balance sheet much at all, if any. However, the one place it could pay off in huge yet uncertain dividends is in the human factor - satisfied, less confused customers who are now more likely to recommend the brand to a friend when someone asks them what phone to buy.
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frankspin

I was going to elaborate on concept to production but didn't think it would be a big talking point but it definitely is. I completely understand it might be 10-18 months before a phone actually hits shelves but I'd much rather their be focus on say 3 devices being really awesome than 10 mediocre ones. It just seems to be easy for them to go "We started this one when it had 750Mhz but there are 1Ghz let's just do two phones!".
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roberto

I say it's a good move. Hopefully it will help also with things like OS updates and reduce the number of goofy handset names.
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jeffkoe

I think this is great! It means HTC has finally exhausted their supply of really bad camera sensors and external speakers, so they can stop mass producing phones in which to put them! seriously though, I think this to be a smart move. It is clear, I think, that HTC has been working on strengthening their weaknesses, and they are adopting a more Applesque model. This makes sense (no pun intended), eapecially for a smaller manufacturer. The triune manufacturing model frank spin mentions is Apple's strategy as well, and would be easy for HTC to adopt. I'm looking forward to solid, well rounded devices at every price point from HTC.
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jslick

Yep, this is definitely a good idea because as it stands now, I'm afraid to buy another android device for fear that the hardware might be crap.
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EBone

Keeping things to just two or three phones a year will also prevent putting out inferior products like the Droid RAZR, which never should have been brought to market with its poor battery life. The final shipping product should have been the MAXX model.
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bgibson135

I have an HTC Hero & EVO 4G, and neither one can be easily (or otherwise) hooked up to a Bluetooth keyboard. The Apple Wireless Keyboard connects easily to an iPad (and I suppose an iPhone also). With a full-sized keyboard, I could blog or power-email just as well from my phone as I could from an iPad or my PC. Easier, because I wouldn't have to carry around the extra device(s).
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