How many times have you heard your friends, that are not as techie or geeky as the rest of us, say that they just picked up the new Droid. Then when you ask them which one they say the HTC One X, or Motorola Atrix HD? Or they say they just got the new Galaxy, and the device they bought is not a Samsung device? That’s called brand fragmentation. I’ll admit, when I first got my Motorola Droid back in late 2009, I used to call it the Droid and all other Android phones, Droids as well. But not all Android phones are Droids, all Droids are Android phones though. Seem confusing?
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The Droid brand is a Verizon exclusive. It started with Motorola and HTC with the Droid and Droid Incredible, respectively. And the brand has had many other devices since. Including the HTC Droid DNA, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, and one of everyone’s not so favorite, Samsung Droid Charge. Now both brands have sold very well since they were started in 2009 and 2010. But it’s starting to look like the Galaxy and Droid brands are killing Android. Why? Brand fragmentation. Now we talk all the time about fragmentation, in fact we did it just last week when the Android version numbers came out and the majority of Android users are still on Gingerbread which is nearly 3 years old now.
As we know, people quickly remember brands. Like Droid, Galaxy and even Nokia (back in the day). Now there are two sides to this. If someone didn’t like a particular brand or had problems with their Galaxy device, they probably won’t buy another one. But on the flip side, if you did like your Galaxy S2, you’re probably going to get the Galaxy S3, or S4 when it comes time to upgrade or replace your phone. The same goes for the Droid brand, which is really only relevant to Verizon customers, since Droid is a Verizon-exclusive.
Samsung’s Galaxy brand is used on just about every Android device they have. Everything from high-end to low-end devices. But they are not used for their Windows Phone devices. They have the ATIV brand for that. You’ve got stuff like the Galaxy S3 Mini, which is playing off the success of the Galaxy S3, in a smaller device with lesser specs. Samsung has every device between the 3.5-inch to 5.5-inch range, and that’s what customers want, variety.
Why Are These Brands Killing Android?
Simple. People remember brands. Like I said in the last section. If you bought a Galaxy S3, and you loved it you are probably going to buy another one right? Even if it isn’t running Android. We talked on the podcast a few weeks ago about Samsung making a few devices running Tizen, and our own Randy Arrowood found a picture of a Samsung device running Touchwiz and what he thought was Android, but it in fact was Tizen with Touchwiz on top. Some users have become accustomed to these skins the manufacturers are throwing on their devices, that it won’t matter what OS it is, as long as it has Touchwiz or Sense on it.
In fact, a few weeks ago on Google+ someone asked in the Galaxy S3 community if they bought the Galaxy S3 because of it being Samsung or running Android. The majority of the comments were because it’s a Samsung device. Which goes to show you that brand awareness is very important. Sometimes more important than the operating system it’s running.
Brands are very important. Heck, even the Nexus brand is popular, but that’s because it’s the only brand of devices that has stock Android and gets updates straight from Google. So should Google add guidelines to emphasize Android over their own brand’s name? I don’t think so. Google shouldn’t care if the Galaxy or Droid brand is killing Android. In the end, Google is still getting the money, and their platform is still getting more and more users. As long as these manufacturers are still using Google apps and the Play Store, Google should be happy. In fact, that’s why they are selling their Nexus devices so cheap nowadays. They are selling them at cost, and making a profit off of the Play Store content. But when OEM’s like Amazon start using a forked version of Android along with their own App Store, that’s when Google should be worried. On the other hand, Android is open source. So technically manufacturers can do anything they want with the code. Just some food for thought.
So what do you think? Should we be worrying about the Android brand instead of the Droid or Galaxy brand? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts.