The overall user experience of anybody that’s bought a product sadly depends on the product. If you buy a computer, the OEM is responsible for providing any manufacturer fixes that are required on your device throughout your warranty, or you’re simply given the option to pay for the optional ones. When it comes to a smartphone, that’s a different story.
Back in 2002 after using my Compaq iPAQ h3630 for a year, Compaq gave users the option to pay $40 for the option to upgrade from the Pocket PC 2000 OS to Pocket PC 2002. For many that have just today paid only $19.99 to upgrade their Macs to Mountain Lion, or for those who own an iPhone or a Windows Phone and have never paid a penny for a timely update, what I did 10 years ago is an outrage. Sadly, for those that are currently using a Verizon Galaxy Nexus, I’m sure this doesn’t sound that crazy.
What’s the difference between buying a computer and a smartphone, aside from the price tag? They’re both products you’ve bought, and if you feel like upgrading your computer to Windows 8 if you know it’s capable of doing so, who’s HP or Dell to tell you otherwise? It’s your computer isn’t it?
Android, though the better of most other operating systems, has definitely gained the title of being the Windows Mobile of our day. Highly customizable and definitely powerful, but also not really something you can call your own. I find it funny every time trolls push their quick comments about how Android is open and free, and I’m always compelled to ask them just who is Android open and free to? If it were free and open to you, shouldn’t you be running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on your HTC One X? Why isn’t it an open and free choice to you?
The problem is that it’s open and free to OEMs and Carriers, and sadly, unless you’re part of the mild population of users who takes matters into their own hands and roots their device, you’re stuck without a choice. Even if your OEM decided to push the upgrade to their carrier unlocked variants, those of you that enjoyed Gingerbread on the HTC Inspire 4G on AT&T had much better luck than those using the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon even though both phones were based on the Desire HD.
Then there’s Apple, who is a complete irony. They don’t let you control anything on your phone, but nor do they allow that liberty to carriers. They don’t take any orders from them, and that’s a worldwide reality. Ever since the first generation iPhone, Apple was bold enough to negotiate a smart deal with AT&T where the carrier does their job in focusing on the spectrum while Apple focuses on the hardware and software of the device using it. In my opinion, that’s the way things should be, but I seriously can’t understand why Apple’s competitors can’t strike a deal that smart. For those of you that are about to tell me that Apple is allowed the leverage because they sell the best selling smartphone in the world, let me remind you that when they struck this deal with Cingular (before AT&T), their smartphone sales figures were zero.
So why is it, that if you’ve got the most powerful and open operating system to this date, you’re stuck? Even if you chose to show your OEM that you know better by rooting your device, the OEM slaps you with a voided warranty if you do. What can OEMs do to be better? Let’s start with the basics:
OEMs should care more about you
People become loyal to a brand, because they feel the brand cares about them. BMWs would have no reason for being if it wasn’t because they stand out in tons of things that just make people come back to buy another car even if its crazy expensive. The same thing happens with Apple products. Whether many of you may argue that what I’m saying is not true, I’m sure that those upgrading their late 2009 MacBook Pros to OS X Mountain Lion right now don’t agree with you. And even if those that own an iPhone 3GS are only getting a cropped version of iOS 6, they are getting far better treatment than the owners of the first-generation Galaxy S, which launched the same year.
Customer loyalty is not about selling the most phones. Very few people are capable of buying a new smartphone every year, and that mostly doesn’t have to do with the money involved, but because contracts make it extremely expensive for them to do so. I actually find it stupid that carriers make it so expensive for you to upgrade your device early; instead of helping you do so in order to not jump ship.
OEMs are responsible
When I buy an HTC device, I buy an HTC device, not a Verizon device, nor AT&T device. This is like buying a hamburger, and being told to take my complaints over the bad meat to the meat producer because Burger King shouldn’t be held responsible. When I buy a TV, I buy an LG TV, not a Time Warner cable TV. The United States has given carriers too much liberty on the excuse that they need to guarantee that their network doesn’t become affected by your phone, and OEMs have sadly allowed them to. Try doing that in Europe. The irony is that I rarely use carrier specific phones, and I don’t see AT&T’s network falling because I’m using an unlocked phone that they’ve never tested on their network.
The fact of the matter is that OEMs should take responsibility for their products. If AT&T won’t allow for me to upgrade my HTC One X to Jelly bean, do you think that my next action is to switch my carrier? No! What I’ll do next is not buy another HTC phone and focus on finding the next best thing that doesn’t take so long in upgrading my hardware.
Carriers should focus on their core business
You know, I’m still trying to understand what AT&T is doing sometimes. They’re extremely busy in slowing down how quick you and I will get software updates, just to ensure that their network will not be affected, but nobody has been able to really fix their dropped calls issue.
If carriers would focus on providing us with more LTE solutions, better coverage in crowded areas and just pushing their network to the next level of customer satisfaction, things would be a different story. They should allow OEMs, who excel at building smartphones, to be responsible for their products, no exceptions.
The bottom line
Who’s to blame? OEMs or Carriers? I could say OEMs, but iPhone customers won’t agree with me. I could say carriers, but then iPhone customers won’t agree with me either. Apple somehow figured a way out and the fact of the matter is that the rest of the OEMs should follow. Instead of pushing ads mocking iPhone customers for making crazy lines to buy a next iPhone by flashing the Galaxy S II, why not focus on upgrading that device to Jelly Bean and getting some customer satisfaction out of it. I’m sure there’s no secret sauce to this, it just requires companies to focus on the customer and not themselves.
I’m sure that I’d be the one of those crazy people making a line for the next HTC smartphone, once HTC shows me that they have full control over their product. We should at least be given the option to pay for our upgrades if it’s a money problem.
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down bellow.