The Perception of Android
***Update*** After reading some of the comments I realise I have not made myself clear. I myself am not looking for a phone (I have an iPhone 4s after two years with a Nexus One). This post is to highlight the differences in the views of the people I see near everyday and the views expressed on the Mobile Podcast.
Over the past couple of months there have been a number of small debates taking place at school over which phone deserves the place in their next 2 year contract. As a teenager in the UK the first shout is usually, "Just get a Blackberry, they are the best phone". This may seem strange from the perspective of any tech-savvy person that would be reading the Verge Forums (forgive me blackberry fanboys) as for some reason, mostly unbeknownst to me, blackberries have earned the reputation of being simple, quality device. This view has formed even though many here would know them as quite the opposite. There is no doubt in my mind that BBM has played a major role in the creation of this Blackberry dependant youth.
I believe this is the part where many readers will be thinking iMessage is set to change that. This is not the case (for my peer group) as although many view the attraction of BBM as the ability to send free messages, in the use case of British teenager free messages are not neccessarily the draw. BBM is used as a social network unto itself, with new profile pictures becoming a talking point and new statuses acting as a Twitter alternative to the majority of my demographic who have never Tweeted. iMessage simply does not compete on this front, but this does lead me to the next meander in the phone conversation: "The iPhone is great, you can do everything on it."
With many of my fiends believing the iPod is the only music device and iTunes the only way to keep music on their computer the iPhone is to them the obvious choice if you want to keep music on your phone. Not only this but if you want to play any games it is viewed you can only get an iPhone. This places the iPhone as a media device with a phone built in many of their minds, with iPhones (and iPod touches) regularly passed around in roll-call for as many people to have a go on a turn-based game such as DrawRace 2.
As you may have noticed by now, my friends have fallen for it; the uses they perceive for each phone is exactly the image that Apple and RIM are pushing in their ad campaigns. But now the conversation moves on, "Everything apart from iPhones and Blackberries are S**t!". This refers only to Android (I am sorry Windows Phone, no one knows about you).
Now why is this? How could as big as Android be simply wrapped up in this sweeping statement? The reason; no one knows Android, they know HTC's. I have asked someone who was considering getting an "HTC" (that happened to be manufactured by Samsung) why he wanted this phone. The reply: he had heard that HTC's were cheap. Here lies the issue.
The majority of the carrier bought adverts in the UK featuring an Android phone are targeting the low end, and hardly ever even mention that the phone in question is running Android. And the only high-end devices I have seen on television have been HTC's, which just highlight the features of Sence once again with little mention of Android. This could not be more different to the adverts that I understand Americans are exposed to. Droid, although also leading to some minor consumer confusion, still does enforce the idea of android being more than each manufacturer's effort. In fact, I gather the situation is the opposite in the US, with people unaware of the manufacturer and just looking for an Android device.
However, I do not belive that advertisements alone are the only cause of this massive shift in consumer mentality across the Atlantic. I would also like to bring to attention the difference in the way people choose their phones in the UK which, once again opposite to the American method, is phone first, carrier secound. This means that consumers in the UK and (across Europe) form their loyalty to the manufacturer, and not the carrier.
So where does this leave the debate? The answer is nowhere, with everyone deciding to settle with either an iPhone or a Blackberry.
Please leave your thoughts on this post. Let me know what it is like in your peer group. A follow on Twitter would be much appreciated: @hhowardjenkins.