Posts Tagged: droid

Aug 10

Battle of the philosophies

Any right-thinking person has to believe that competition is good. As Apple and Google go about thrashing one another, we all reap the benefits. And right up front, I do have to admit (gasp) that I’ve now tried a few Android phones, and in my superficial test drive they felt pretty good.

However, the philosophies behind the platforms remain night and day. To some, this means nothing — legitimately, they may only care about the phone in their hand. To others, it means a lot — because it affects the way they the platform is managed and perceived around the world.

Apple, as many point out, is into the control thing. This is exactly why so many people love their iPhones. Apple guarantees the experience by crafting both the OS and the hardware, and polices the App Store to at least attempt some quality control. The dark side of Apple’s approach is the perception that they are stifling freedom. (225,000 apps be damned.)

The world of Android is very different. Google supplies the OS while a legion of manufacturers compete with one another to make the hardware. This guarantees choice. But the dark side is the potential for fragmentation, where certain phones run certain versions of Android, some are missing features, upgrades can be delayed or unavailable, etc.

In fact, it’s hard to classify this as “potential” anymore. In the short time Android phones have been among us, fragmentation is already rearing its ugly head. PC Magazine just observed that the rollout of Android 2.2 was a mess. To paraphrase:

• The first Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgrades to Droid failed to deliver Flash. An upgrade to the upgrade will shortly fix that.
• The overseas Droid (called Milestone) gets Froyo in late Q4, but only in Europe and Korea. Froyo is “under evaluation” for Canada, Latin America and Mexico.
• Motorola phones with pre-2.1 versions of Android won’t get Froyo anytime soon.
• The Motorola Cliq, Cliq XT and Backflip are waiting for Android 2.1, but the Devour won’t get it.
• Owners of the Droid Incredible are still waiting for their upgrade.
• The brand-spanking-new Dell Streak was delivered with Android 1.6 and won’t get an upgrade till the end of the year.
• Samsung Galaxy phones are expected to get Froyo, but no one knows when.
• The only company to “ace” the Froyo launch was … Google. Nexus One users got their upgrades back at the end of June.

Like I said, none of this matters if you love the phone in your hand and could care less about the guy sitting next to you. But if you’re a fan of simplicity — or even democracy — it’s hard not to be turned off by the fragmentation of Android.

Jul 10

Droid does coolness

Okay, so I’m a day late with this one. Just wanted to drool a bit over the Droid X teaser commercial that ran the night before yesterday’s launch.

I have to admit, this spot hooked me.

I’ve knocked Droid ads in the past for being 99% testosterone with little appeal to the female audience. I wouldn’t make the same criticism of this spot — it’s beautifully produced and, lo and behold, it actually has a story. The soundtrack is perfect. Mercifully absent are the cheesy effects and robot-macho trash talk.

Consistent with Droid’s we’re-not-Apple approach, no spot could be as far removed from Apple’s touchy-feely FaceTime spots as this. While Apple touts babies and relationships, Droid is on a cold, hard quest to uncover new technologies. I’m not saying Apple will suffer for it, only that the two worlds are night and day — just the way Droid likes it.

Bear in mind, this spot is just a teaser. Who knows what the full campaign will look like, but we can safely assume it won’t feature grandma and her new kitten.

I haven’t yet gotten to play with a Droid X, but from what I see of it online, it will give iPhone a run for its money. The huge screen looks amazing, though I’m curious to find out what that means for battery life. The fact that it’s available on Verizon puts even more pressure on Apple at a time when they’ve got their hands full with, uh, other issues.

In the meantime, I’m a sucker for a good story — and this spot does its job well. Kudos to whoever created it. Great work. (If anyone knows who the culprits are, I’d be happy to give them credit here.)

Feb 10

Battle of the androids

Now now, Google - play nice

Back when Google launched its Nexus One phone, I thought it was odd that Google had chosen to compete with its own partners.

It’s interesting that after the Droid (the best Android phone) came the Nexus One (the best Android phone), and now, just announced at the Mobile World Congress, we have HTC’s Desire (the best Android phone). And yes, that’s the same HTC that builds Google’s Nexus One.

Of course on one level this is a silly thing to point out. After all, hundreds of PCs run Windows, and the fact is some PCs are better than others for a hundred different reasons. That’s called choice. The only difference is that Microsoft does not manufacture PCs. They don’t serve up the “best” version of the same product they’re asking their partners to make. That’s called evil.

Absolutely, competition is good. Customers benefit as the various Android-makers try to outdo each other with new reasons to buy their own devices. But for all of Google’s “partners,” there is something extremely unholy about competing with the guy who controls the OS your product depends on, and knows every new feature that’s on the drawing board.

It hurts a little to see Google move in this direction. We were all rooting for them for so long. The brainiest, coolest company out there. This is starting to feel like the end of the movie, when we find out that the least likely person in the room turns out to be the serial killer.

Dec 09

Droid plays the testosterone card

[Sorry, the commercial referenced here has disappeared from YouTube]

Enough of the teasers. The first real ad in the Droid assault is now among us. And assault turns out to be a pretty good descriptor — because everything about this spot is amped to extremes, from strategy and script to images and editing.

What this effort probably needed most, however, was some adult supervision.

Every agency wants to start with the most unexpected, out-there ideas. Nothing’s taboo. The theory is that you can always pull creative back, but you can’t amplify something that isn’t there. But then you start developing. And when you’re about to enter the world’s hottest category, battling the much-loved iPhone, risking market share and millions of dollars, you’d think that some responsible person might have politely raised a hand and said: “are you nuts?”

It’s as if the agency, followed by Verizon, Google and Motorola, developed this ad in an alternate reality —  where design doesn’t matter, women want to be men and writers are paid by the adjective. What we get is a whole fleet of runaway trains.

It’s a male-only strategy in a category that’s 50% female. It’s a spot that attacks iPhone for the very reason it’s succeeded — great design. It’s a script that is so desperately cool, it’s juvenile. Worst of all, it’s a launch that presents a smartphone without any smart — offering no benefit other than speed. In that sense, it’s actually less of an ad than the teaser was.

I’m all for chipping away at iPhone’s armor. But allowing your inner pubescent to attack iPhone as “a tiara-wearing, digitally clueless beauty queen” or “a precious porcelain figurine of a phone” reveals a disturbing cluelessness.

It’s hard to imagine any woman outside of the WWE who’d appreciate this ultra-male tone. At the website, the slide continues: we get mechanical design presented by a flesh-and-blood android so smarmy, you want to slap him. (Extra points for integration!)

The good news for Droid is, misguided marketing isn’t always fatal. Maybe the device will sell well by its own merits and the superiority of the Verizon network. Who knows, maybe Droid will ultimately cut through iPhone’s lead “like a circular saw through a ripe banana.”