Android Hardware Is Too Saturated For Its Own Good

The plethora of Android devices on the market was added to in a variety of ways today with news from IFA.

My friend Evan Selleck asks a good question over at PhoneDog. Is the market being saturated with Android smartphones?

The answer is yes. Resoundingly and overwhelmingly yes. There is a difference between choice and too much choice. I believe there is a paradox at play with regard to the strategies of Android hardware makers. They believe the more devices the better. I actually believe the opposite is true.

I read a book a while back called “The Paradox of Consumer Choice: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz. His main premise of the book is that too much choice actually makes it harder for consumers to make decisions. If you are interested in this I highly recommend reading the book.

If I were to put myself in a consumers shoes, something I do often, and I were genuinely shopping for an Android phone I would find it difficult. There are simply too many choices. You also have the added bonus of knowing something better is just around the corner because Android vendors release new phones as often as rabbits have babies.

Furthermore a saturated landscape of devices is even harder to justify in a market that is in the process of maturing like the smart phone and tablet segment. Most consumers are still buying their first smart phones. Therefore they are still exploring what they want in a smart phone.

So the paradox is that Android vendors believe more is better when in fact while this market matures more is less. Android vendors should be making it easier for consumers to choose their products not more difficult.

The impact is that this saturation and overwhelming amount of choice with Android devices will most likely lead consumers to go with the safe bet, which is the iPhone. All the reviews of the iPhone are positive, consumers hear from their friends how much they love the iPhone, etc etc.

When you add all that up you can see why I stated that the iPhone 5 would be Apple’s biggest launch yet.

The bottom line is this saturation in the Android space makes it easy to conclude that the iPhone’s dominance is no where near being threatened. Apple is the #1 smart phone manufacturer and it doesn’t appear that will change anytime soon.

If you look at the history of the technology industry, the most iconic products stand apart. Take the Palm V(5) for example, arguably one of the most iconic products in our industries history. Palm didn’t release five Palm products that year. They just made one the Palm V and it was the most desirable PDA by far. Apple’s strategy has been the same.

While this market is maturing the right strategy for Android vendors would be to pour all their resources into creating one amazing device per cycle. Unfortunately they are falling into the trap of thinking the more devices the marrier. Thus saturating the market and making it hard for consumers to choose.

You may say this sounds silly since Android has been growing at alarming rates with vendors employing this strategy. To that I say let’s re-evaluate Android market share at the end of the year.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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