I can remember back when I bought my BlackBerry Curve 8330. I purchased it when it first came out and I carried it for over two years without ever wanting another phone. That is, until the Tour hit the shelves. I can't begin to imagine keeping a phone for more than three or four months now, much less two years. According to CNN, we have “Android's Law” to thank for this.

What is Android's Law, you ask? It goes a little something like this:

...if you picked up the Motorola (MMI) Droid when it went on sale in November 2009, you had the best Android device on the market. But then the twice-as-fast Nexus One went on sale in January 2010. Then the HTC Droid Incredible hit the market in April. Then in June, the Evo 4G put the Droid Incredible to shame. The Samsung Galaxy S came out later that month. Then the Nexus S ... You get the point.

This is still ongoing and I anticipate it will get worse before it gets better. Look at all of the announcements from CES. That was only a portion of the phones we will see this year, and many of them aim to declare nothing more than the obsolescence of the smartphones from 2010. Sporting dual-core processors and large, powerful displays, these recent announcements make even my favorite phone to date – a phone that is still new, perfectly capable, and blazing fast – seem tarnished and old.

HTC claims that the average shelf life of smartphones used to be an estimated three years. Now, they estimate the current average time phones stay on the market is a mere six to nine months, a substantial difference. Essentially, we're getting what we asked for – bigger, better, faster phones. But it isn't exactly how we expected it. HTC explains that “consumers want more power and faster phones. With increased competition, there's a more pressing reason for shorter lifecycles.”

Why is Android the cause for these short lifecycles? Android is free; manufacturers no longer have to build their own software. Thanks to Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, the hardware can be produced in far less time than before, too. Purchase ready-made components; design and manufacture the remaining hardware; install Android and slap on a custom interface of choice; and manufacturers could have themselves the next Android flagship headed to shelves in a matter of months, versus a year or more.

Aside from all the negative aspects of Android's Law, there are some benefits: Companies that have lived in the shadows now have the opportunity to emerge. IDC analyst Will Stofega says, “Since Android is free, these manufacturers are willing to take some chances. The need to come up with something that's going to stick and be a major player is intense.”

Take a minute to look at ZTE. Who were they in 2009? Since the introduction and popularization of Android, ZTE has doubled its global market share, ousted Apple as the fourth largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, and booted RIM to the “others” category. Even LG – who isn't exactly known for smartphones –  brought the heat with the world's first dual-core smarphone in 2010, and continues that flame with rumors of the first 3D phone.

The good news is, analysts predict that these cycles will eventually stop shortening, and it only makes sense. Here in the States, most people with smartphones sign two-year contracts when they get their phone. With successors hitting the market six to nine months after the original's release date, most customers are still stuck in their contracts while several generations of phones pass. With US carriers working hard to keep customers in their contracts, the market will eventually be knocked off balance. Either the US will move away from subsidized sales (which is not very likely), or production will calm due to waning sales.

Don't fret, some older devices still shine through all the light of the pending generation. Just because there is a rumor of the successor to your phone doesn't mean it's time to get rid of the old. Some devices have been future-proofed very well and continue to do well amongst newer devices. The EVO 4G is still popular over seven months after its release, and it shares most specs with its newer LTE-capable cousin, the HTC ThunderBolt. Do you feel like your phone has become obsolete amid these 2011 devices? Do Android updates help restore your love for your once-awesome Android phone, or is that new hardware all you can think of?

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the Motorola Droid

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

40 Reactions to this post

"Does "Android's Law" make new phones shine less or does it create a level playing field?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Tariq Suharto
Tariq Suharto I won HTC desire running froyo n also iPod touch latest one. I mainly use browser n email. I'm extremely happy with desires performance as it is clearly faster than the latest version of iPod touch. Android is a powerhouse. But iPhone is a complete package which is significantly more expensive.
Janez Voncina
Janez Voncina Geez... Flamewar over here. It's not cool to be happy because someone who is nice dying. And Android fans - buy Nexus One or S for updates. Apple fans - get over it. Android is catching up with Apple in all things (except price, dictator, not-openess.
Justin Young
Justin Young Ok for real all of you need to shut the Hell up. IPhone was good but its over with. It sucks now. And Apple didn't make the first smart phone or tab. The first tab was released by some company in China.
Erika Velasquez
Erika Velasquez This is hilarious
Khan Zafar Durrani
Khan Zafar Durrani cool software
Rhys Dardis
Rhys Dardis i can talk and do data on my desire z in canada on rogers so i dont know what the big deal about voice and data at once is
Joshuah Landazuri
Joshuah Landazuri balls to all of you!!!! i going to make my own OS!
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz Anyway i love android, its customizable, ios no
Tony Abiama
Tony Abiama @Victor has obviously been molested before
Connie Litrenta
Connie Litrenta Victor, you have serious issues. I Phone may be a great device but there are PLENTY of other great devices. AT&T sucks and now Verizon is in on it but you can talk a and do data at the same time. Like the other guy said, THIS is why people can't stand Apple fanboys, especially those who can't spell or use proper grammar
Ed Covert
Ed Covert @Victor: It's great that you let old Jobsie tea bag you while you finger his iHole. Hope you enjoy buying version 2.0/3.0/s to get features that were industry STANDARD when 1.0 was released. Gotta love a company that gets applauded for planned obsolescence.
Ed Covert
Ed Covert Victor apparently never realized there have been Windows Mobile phones for years before the iPhone was a thought. Oh and tablets too. Do a little research before yelling "first" douche.
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @jerry I doubt it was fully touch or even smart let's face it apple started the whole touch screen revolution And u can buy whatever u want just saying u won't be as happy as if u had an apple product Long live APPLE!!!
Jerry Adney
Jerry Adney @Victor: I guess I imagined owning three touch screen smart phones before the iPhone was a glimmer in a hipster's eye.... Anyway why do you care so much? This is why people can't stand Apple fans. You make it your business to call out anyone who doesn't buy the same personal electronics as you. Get help. As for content, I don't really feel like I need a new phone that often. My Evo is still able to run everything I throw at it and even some of the new phones coming out on Verizon and AT&T look pretty much like Evos. I'm sure I will upgrade at some point but smart phones are starting to really come into their own. There isn't much you can't do on the current top tier Android/iOS/Windows phones so it's harder to sell frequent upgrades.
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @David u are an idiot y would u want that many phones when none can compare to iPhones In case u dnt remember apple started both the smartphone and the tablet market soooo suck on that u little bitch
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @rhys check again there are more iOS devices active in the world then there are androids I'm not just talking about iPhones but itouches and ipads as well u fucking inbreed piece of shit u should die first Steve jobs is more helpful to society then u or ure fucking family
Ricardo Contreras Jr.
Ricardo Contreras Jr. Cat in hat
HTown Chitown
HTown Chitown Nexus s is the best phone out and will be the best phone for awile... I get all the updates wile every 1 else always crying about a update!!!
Ed Covert
Ed Covert This whole comments section made me both laugh and realize society is doomed.
Tito David Rosa
Tito David Rosa Ppl with iso stop bitchin cuz android if takeing over the map...iphone is just one phone one software...android its tons of different phone and software..for ppl to choose from...
Tito David Rosa
Tito David Rosa Ppl with iso stop bitchin cuz android if takeing over the map...iphone is just one phone one software...android its tons of different phone and software..for ppl to choose from...
Rhys Dardis
Rhys Dardis @ victor you dont read many articles do you?? android did surpass apple a while ago...i think q2 last year...q4 2010 they surpassed symbian which was the raining king of the mobile world thanks to nokia and europeans...apple is dethrowned ipad 2specs are being leeked and the screen res is the same as the first one, thats not advancement...take a look at the motorola zoom, double core 1080p playback and output..iphone 5 psssshhhhh take a look at the motorola atrix...talk about versatility and 1gb ddr2 ram....lets see apple compete with the nvidia tegra 2...it wont happen and if it does it will be just like there macbooks...overheat and fucking wear out the cpu till it gets slower and slower everyday...apple is done...they should really stop while there ahead the big green machine is taking over whether you fanboys like it or not...even blackberry specs are surpasing iphone 4s lolz aaple ifail...oh and say good bye to your beloved god steve jobs,,,hes going to die soon
Jeff Alamillo
Jeff Alamillo Everybody is entitled to their own opinions.
Skye Villanueva
Skye Villanueva @ erik my moms cliq runs 2.1 no problem....and that's without root
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @kenny Stop hating cuz u have a cheap as android phone bitch
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @Erik I honestly hope android surpasses apple I would love to c that technology Dnt get me wrong android has come along way to be apples main competitor but let's face it apple is just ahead of it's time
Kenny Contreras
Kenny Contreras Victor, take the stick out of your ass! Quit whining! I agree, slightly, with Thomas. You buy and android and the next day there is something better. But at the same time, I refuse to be sucked into iPhone b/s. They have too much power over their users. The user should have the control. I'm completely ok with having the best phone for a while then upgrading a few years later when I find a phone that is wwwaaaayyyyyy better, not just the next version. GO ANDROID!!!
Erik Isaksen
Erik Isaksen @Anthony I had the Wing it was Windows Mobile 6 .... typical windows always crashing, no worthwhile apps whatsoever for it ... maybe thats changed but do your research it might be good now *Shrug* @Victor ya I know wtf? Progress is all fine n dandy but u still hafta support the people you have. Or youll lose them ....
Victor Sanchez
Thomas Scully Matthews
Thomas Scully Matthews Android law is what's holding me back from going android. Well one of the reasons. I am a guy who always likes to have the best, and that's possible with the iPhone. I can have the best iPhone for a year, then get the new one. If I had android, I wouldn't get to have the greatest thing all the time and that would make me feel like my phone was garbage compared to the next best phone. Android is very successful, and if the slowed their production to maybe 5 low, mid, and high range devices a year, that would greatly help them in the long run.
Matt Wilkie
Matt Wilkie Blackberry is conformity at it's worst. I thought I was the bee's knees for not buying an iPhone. Android ROX MY SOX!! @Rhys, I had a blackberry too for two years, and you're absolutely right!
Anthony Bivins
Anthony Bivins All Android phones r all the same I am thinking about get windows 7 phone just because its different everybody has a android their getting played out.
Jose Cruz
Jose Cruz Android is the shit
Jose F. Barbosa
Jose F. Barbosa it's called progress and is making Apple not so mighty anymore...
Victor Sanchez
Victor Sanchez @erik the cliq 2 I out already read a fucking article for once IOS OVER ANDROID FUCK ANDROID!!!
Erik Isaksen
Erik Isaksen All I know is, Android is now at 3.0 and tmobile cant get the Cliq past 1.6 and its been WELL over a year since they brought the phone out. I like the service tmobile has but if they cant pull their customer support heads out of their collective asses Im switchin to Verizon n gettin an iPhone
Ricardo Contreras Jr.
Ricardo Contreras Jr. Broccoli
Rhys Dardis
Rhys Dardis Blackberry also stays the exact same just a little bit different body it isnt until now that better screens and cpus and memory is being put into the phones...there junk and there slow at development thats why you can keep a blackberry forever
Omar Lmt
Omar Lmt Andriod Alll The Way!
James Thomas Bowman
James Thomas Bowman Blackberry sucks , really .. Really baaaad . I have a curve 8530 & its terrible .

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices