Will it ever end?

If you’re looking for a quick answer to the above question then I would say “no”. A slightly lengthier answer would be “probably not”. So what am I on about I hear you ask? I am talking about the constant stream of new devices in different shapes, sizes, colours, slightly different hardware changes, new processors, etc etc.

When I bought my first phone; a Nokia 3210 it lasted me for a couple of years, a slightly different shell or case would keep me amused for months. Now I feel imprisoned in a two year contract with a phone that I sold on eBay months ago; a HTC Desire. I am 18 months through my current contract and I have had 5 different phones, each one being slightly better than the previous one. But this is starting to get depressing, after 4-5 months your current device seems slow, the manufacturers cannot be bothered to update it properly and the only way to keep up with latest phones is to spend every weekend researching which custom ROM to install. Companies like HTC and Samsung do not help by announcing new phones every few weeks.


Let’s say today you wanted to buy a new phone. Some people may wait for the next iPhone (whatever they decide to call it), some people may wait for the Nexus Prime (whatever that might look like), some people may get a Samsung Galaxy S2 (before it’s banned in the UK) and some people would be stumped – not being able to make a decision what to do. Do you wait for the newest device that will no doubt cost you more ? Or do you buy an older device for less money? I suppose money is one element that controls what people do, with the price their new device will fetch on eBay after six months being another.

Tablets are equally as complicated, with next generation chipsets being mentioned all over the place and different software versions governing what people do. I was looking into buying another tablet a few weeks ago and the varying answers put me off. Take the recent price drop on the Asus Transformer, my initial reaction “ooh I want/need one of those” and then the doubt set in. Will it get an update to Ice Cream Sandwich (stupid name)? Will it be able to play the latest games in 6-8 months? Will the Tegra 3 chips be way better? Should I save some more money and buy a Tegra 3 device instead? Should I buy an Andypad? Should I buy an Archos 101 from Carphone Warehouse? Should I just not buy a third tablet, will the tablet have a decent developer following, have I got a problem? So there ended my Tablet buying traumas.

Moore’s Law is partly to blame here, with advancements in technology for processors, memory and cameras being the main factors in buying a new device. The manufacturers would be stupid not to want the latest CPU in their new tablet. Which makes me wonder how a certain manufacturer manages to only release one phone and one tablet a year and still manage to stay ahead of all of the competition. I guess they have created a perfect mix of hardware, software and marketing that makes most people not worry about not having the latest and greatest.

Software is also a massive factor that affects your choice. For instance if you buy an older device, will it get the latest updates? Some older Android phones and tablets cannot use the Adobe Flash Player because it does not support older versions of Android. Another example of this is with the Mango update for Windows Phone, people have spent the last few months speculating which older devices will get the update, only to find out they all will (eventually). Every time HTC release another phone it comes with a new version of their skin for Android; Sense. This seems to make people want the latest phone to have the latest version (I hate Sense though). Apple release newer versions of iOS that are supposed to work with previous generation devices, yet we still hear of people who have slow devices after updating. Apple also make sure that each new product has the new software as well, which adds to it’s desirability.

Where will we be in a few years time? What will Apple have created by then? How many small UK companies will have tried to conquer the tablet market with repackaged Chinese tablets? Will Samsung be allowed to sell anything even slightly phone related?

So rant over. It’s just my opinion on the current state of the mobile industry. Let us know your feelings on the subject.

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  • I used to be like this when I had various Windows Mobile phones back in the day. I was the guy who was always changing his mobile trying to find the perfect device to suit me.

    Then along came the iPhone. I usually try to have the latest version of these but judging from what may possibly be released next (the iPhone 4S?) im not to fussed about having a phone thats slightly better than the last version.

    What I like about Apple is that they release a newer software version which effectively breathes new life into your existing device so that when the next bigger incarnation of their phone comes out then your not totally left behind.

    I do agree that the pace manufacturers are releasing new devices is mind boggling! Apple get slated for taking ages to release devices, whereas Android devices are released constantly.

    Will have to wait and see what apple have up their sleeves tomorrow in their announcement, but at the end of the day, especially in the current financial climate, money will play a very big part in my choice of what device I have. As long as the device does what I need it to and it does it well then I will more than likely hold off upgrading until my contract finishes (next year).

    I would like it more if mobile phone networks went back to the good old 12 month contracts! A new phone for a heavy discount every 12 months, those were the days!

    • James Pearce

      I dream about the days of 12 month contracts. Amazing memories!

      • Anonymous

        I still have a 12 month contract.  I dont upgrade my phone every time which enables me to re-negotiate my contract with a 12month contract and amazingly low line rental.  When I do get a phone I pay some cash towards it so I can have a 12 month contract.

  • Anonymous

    A few years ago I was considered an expert on mobile phones. Friends and colleagues would ask my advice on what phone to get. I would ask for their requirements and over up some suggestions.

    I always enjoyed spending time looking, learning and comparing. I would have a state of the art phone which I would spend time learning and tweaking, using as many of the features as possible. Then every 12-18 months a new phone would crop up. It would start with internet rumours, speculation, mocked-up images and made up specifications.

    Then the waiting…..and waiting…….and waiting. The phone release date would be publicised and the forums would be buzzing with the new cool and futuristic functions. Then the inevitable disappointment of the delay. The anger and constant emailing the phone manufacture telling them to hurry up. Until one day you find out that it has been released. But….your phone contract provider have not said if they will stock it. So starts the campaign with the network provider. How to get them to believe that they will sell millions of the latest Sony Ericsson smart phone or Nokia media phone, or Motorola flip phone. Eventually they would cave in and you would take delivery of a beautiful new phone with loads of futuristic feature to amazing your friends and colleagues (and confuse your parents).

    Now, HTC et al are releasing phones every bloomin day. They all seem to be roughly the same but with slightly more memory, or slightly faster processor or slightly larger screen. All the same operating system, interface and built in apps designed to grab as much personal information as they can. Where are the leaps in technology and function? Where is the fun and excitement?

    The phone manufacturers have become lazy and have changed their focus. Its all about who can take who to court. Who can out ‘market’ someone else. It is not about innovation, technology and pushing the boundaries any more.

    The net result of all of this is that I (and many people I know) have very little excitement about phones any more. Very little personal investment and interest. And very little desire to get the latest upgrade as it doesn’t seem that much different from the last one.

    Like everything, it is less about substance and more about style. And its boring, isn’t it?

    • I think the technological boundary with this type communication hit the buffers years ago. You’re right, It’s boring just like the combustion engine. Just new software driving the same stuff, perhaps there needs to be a Moores law for mobile communication.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a Catch 22 at times. Phones now cost so much that you need a 24 month plan at the very least, so that means you have to sit by and watch the newer, better phones appear. At least with Android you CAN add a ROM to breathe some life into the ‘ole dog :)

  • No, it won’t ever end, it will just get worse.

    Call me a pessimist if you will but there is no incentive for anyone in the value chain to serve the customer rather than their own corporate interests (and those of their up and downstream partners).

  • Not had a “contract” device for 5 years now, 2 years is an eternity in this business, much better to get a bargain SIM free, and a rolling SIM only contract :) yeah i got a CPW 101, its nice :)

  • I’ve fallen
    into this trap before and while it is nice to have the latest and greatest
    (phone or rom) or to work out some new tweak, mod or trick it gets tiresome
    after a while not to mention expensive.

    What i think
    most android mfg’s are missing is that by constantly releasing new phones they
    are generally hurting themselves and creating a destructive environment that
    will be difficult to change.

    With each
    new model released there is R&D, manufacturing, marketing, certification
    and support cost associated with it. The first and last are the normal casualties
    of this process. Higher R&D cost generally mean less innovation while
    higher support cost result in fewer or slower updates and a diminished customer
    experience.

    By contrast
    Apple only has to throw R&D money at one phone and one tablet a year and
    their support burden covers fewer total models of iPhone than the number of
    phones HTC released this year alone.

     

    Personally I think HTC makes the best mobile hardware,
    especially their QWERTY sliders, and I disagree with the author about sense because
    I feel that it offers the most complete and polished android experience.   I
    would love to see what they could do if they reduced the number of models they
    release in a year to 1 or 2 per OS and focus the same effort on refinement and
    quality that they now spread among multiple models.

     

    I am not a fan of Apple and while their products are good I don’t
    believe they’re great or even the best. 
    I don’t believe they are beating the competition with hardware or really
    even software.  The tools they are beating
    everyone over the head with are business acumen and marketing prowess.  They’ve built a strong (or tyrannical) eco system
    and design their products with a focus on the user experience striving to make
    it accessible and appealing to the masses. 

     

    They have a single bullet and it always hits its target and
    it will be difficult if not impossible to defeat this singular focus with a
    shotgun approach of dozens of models with a nearly finished feel at best.

  • Bugs

    I used to a complete upgrade addict! i would be constantly scouring the net looking for the next big wow phone to come out, that is until i just got ‘p’ed off with the whole process.
    To me ebay for the next phone and a giffgaff sim are the perfect answer to the old craving! and oddly now that i dont have an upgrade date i dont feel the need! 

    My current phone is perfect, a motorola defy (no cracked screen gears!) with CM7, clocked to 1GHZ is fluid and the battery runs easily for a heavy use day, cant say i can see any phone that has the software support to outdo it, and software is the thing on android that seems to lagging behind the new dual core handsets, my defy has had no problems with any software thrown at it (still no cracks gears!) so no requirement to upgrade!.

    so what would make me upgrade?

    you’ve probably already guessed!

    Cracked screen gears!

    lol