I’ve been criticizing LG for not going full force on updating their phones to the latest versions of Android. It seems the criticism was well placed because LG still doesn’t look like they’ve learned their lesson. LG needs to realize they are not even a top 3 player in people’s minds, which means that if they ever want to be in that place they will have to work even harder than the top 3 players to get there. It’s the only way if they want to catch-up.
But instead of doing that, they are taking their time, probably because they tell themselves they don’t have enough resources to compete with the top 3 players. Well, if they keep acting like this, soon there won’t be any resources left at all. They need to get the resources and show their potential customers that they will work hard to sway them. Promising Android 4.0 so late into Q2 and for Q3 is not the way to do that.
Manufacturers need to finally realize that even though they are “phone manufacturers”, their job isn’t just to make the hardware, it’s also to make the software work well on those phones. Their customers don’t want just the hardware. They want the software, too. Google is practically throwing it at their doorsteps for free, after spending billions in developing it and upgrading it with new features. They just need to show a little commitment, take it and run with it.
But it still feels like the culture inside these companies focuses mostly on the hardware, and they treat software as an afterthought. In the case of LG especially, it sometimes means that even the original version on the phone is not very good, let alone hoping for some good updates.
Plus, if they really hate dealing with the software so much, then why are they even bothering to modify it so much? Just make a beautiful and powerful phone, take Google’s software, optimize it for that hardware, and sell it. I would think for a cash strapped company like LG, this would be their main strategy, so they take maximum advantage of the Android ecosystem, with minimum cost on their side.
Of course, there’s also another problem that was one again brought to the attention of the public by Samsung last week, when they said their most popular phone so far, the Galaxy S will not receive the Android 4.0 update, even though it’s been less than one year and a half since it launched.
Manufacturers still seem to think of next-quarter revenues a little too much instead of focusing on life-time customer value. Making quality phones is not enough to keep a customer for as long as possible. If you sell him a phone, and then at the first sign of trouble you run away, or refuse to serve him with important updates such as Android 4.0, before his 2 year contract has even expired, is a good way to make sure that customer will never come back to you.
On the other hand, if you make great phones, but also offer the best support among your competitors, you can assure just as well that your customers will be very loyal and will always recommend your phones to their friends, too. It’s time for manufacturers to get out of the next-quarter profits trap, and think a little bit more long term if they want their business to be successful indefinitely.