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Why recent decisions regarding Android deployment have alienated customers

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Journeyman

Why recent decisions regarding Android deployment have alienated customers

Greetings all,

I'm placing this in the feedback area of the forums, but I'm sure it would also fit the Android forums or the Rants. 

I've been with Sprint for a short while now and overall I've been very pleased with not only the coverage area where I live but also with the very competitive pricing and customer service that they offer.  In those respects, I'm quite satisfied.

However, over the past couple of months I've grown a bit discontented with how Sprint is handling their Android adoption and deployment.  For starters, and this is a complaint I'm certain others have vented about, is the decision to exclude the HTC Hero and Samsung Moment from the Android 2.2 (Froyo) update.  Both phones were part of the inception of Android for Sprint and while they are aged in comparison to newer phones they are more than able to run Froyo.  In point of fact, if any phones in the Android world would benefit from Froyo, the Hero and Moment are prime candidates: Froyo offers a major performance increase over previous deployments (1.5 and 2.1 being the previous majors), something that slower hardware would benefit from greatly.

Secondly is the decision to cancel the Google Nexus One.  In the span of 60 days we saw an official "on the way" announcement followed by a "nope, not happening".  This is a terrible disservice to customers looking for another Android option.  While it is understandable that the long term objective behind excluding Nexus One would be to bolster the success of the HTC Evo 4G it doesn't make sense to pigeon hole the customer base into such a hardware update.  The Evo, while amazing on paper, is too large for some users to use effectively.  More over the fact is the staggered 4G service rollout coupled with the mandatory $10 fee for the service, regardless of availability (the people I know with Evo are paying extra for coverage that hasn't been brought into our area yet).

Introducing the Nexus One would give customers the option of a more powerful Android phone that fits a more traditional form factor.  It also would allow customers access to newer versions of Android without having to wait for carrier specific go-aheads.

Lastly, and this is minor but worth mentioning, is the forced bloatware that comes on your Android phones.  While I can appreciate the necessity from a business standing the overall financial gain can't warrant the overall performance hit that the phones suffer.  For example, my HTC Hero runs rather slowly with the official Android 2.1 update that you've provided but runs blazingly fast with a vanilla 2.1 ROM.  You'll push more units of a phone if it runs well, thusly reviewing well (customers do read reviews before purchasing phones), than you'll make capital from the inclusion of a NFL or NASCAR application that takes up room and resources on the phone.  Also, considering that Android is built on Linux, bloatware that cannot be removed spits in the face of the GNU / GPL community.

Android smartphones are quickly becoming a major player in the market, and with great reason.  The best strategy to apply would be to support a well rounded array of options for your current and potential customers to choose from.  Limiting our choices and publicly abandoning support on devices that are still being sold at premium prices (Hero and Moment) sends a very poor message to the community.

Phones and the expectations of carriers have changed dramatically.  The sway of momentum will follow the carrier that adapts best to those changes.  Alienation is not an appropriate adaptation.

1 REPLY

Re: Why recent decisions regarding Android deployment have alienated customers

I think it boils down to what is Sprint willing to allow their end users to use.  Former interim CEO Paul Saleh was actually advocating the progressive idea of opening up the Sprint network to allow any CDMA phone to be used on it.  But as soon as Dan Hesse was named CEO, he put the kabash on that.

Now, as for Android, I think the problem stems from two points.  First, Sprint management (and Dan Hesse in particular) simply does not understand their end users all that well.  Yes, there are several techies that LOVE the Evo.  Good for them.  However, most of us are not willing to pay up for a phone that can't actually deliver true 4G speed...especially since T-Mobile is able to trump it using 3G technology.  Second, Sprint's desire to put up that walled garden is exactly why you don't see companies rolling out updates all that quickly.  Nextel depended on Motorola for any updates to the phones...and did not stifle the process.  Sprint...exactly the opposite.

You speak of the Nexus One.  Sadly, that phone was never going to be destined for CDMA.  Google has its sites set not on making phones, but on making operating systems....software.  So the lack of a Nexus One may not be Sprint's fault at all.  Google is to blame for that.  But Sprint's lack of leadership in the Android market (i.e., allowing T-Mobile to be the first with an Android phone, and first to get the newest OS updates) is telling.  I'm also sure that Google is seriously disappointed in the ultra-slow buildout of the WiMAX network by Clearwire.  I know I am.  In fact, it's so slow that Sprint has no idea when any city is being built, let alone when that city will have the network turned on.  It's sad really.

But the biggest disappointment for me is the claim (by Sprint, not by Motorola) that the i1 is going to be stuck with Android 1.5 simply because allegedly PTT won't operate properly under any of the other updates..be it 1.6, 2.1, or even 2.2.  Personally, I know that's not true since the i1 in Israel is already updated to 2.1 and operates (according to some friends of mine) brilliantly.  They even have the video frame rate bumped up to 30fps.  Not bad for a phone that Sprint claims can't work with any Android OS above 1.5 eh?

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