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No matter which carrier you use, when it comes to Android, there is no shortage of options. HTC, Motorola, LG and Samsung have spread their many devices across all major US carriers and they come at varying price points and in all different sizes, colors and form factors. The chances of there being at least one Android phone out there that suits your needs are pretty high. Power in numbers, right?

Although having a wide selection of devices is never a bad thing, it's beginning to be a bit much to digest. And too many options makes it difficult on the consumer. But the real problem is the shelf life of the devices. Back in February, HTC claimed that the average shelf life of a cell phone used to be an astounding three years. Android's Law, however, cut that estimated shelf life down to anywhere from six to nine months.

That was February, this is October, and a lot has changed. A device shelf life of six months is now a stretch – we're now looking at two to three months. Sure, the carrier keeps the device in their lineup for much longer, and I'm sure they still sell some older devices to customers looking for a bargain. But in truth, those phones were likely dated by the time they actually hit the shelves, and were long forgotten a month or two after they launched.

Take the HTC Sensation 4G for example. It was easily one of the most-hyped phones of 2011. There's no doubt about it. The Sensation finally landed in May, but by the time it arrived, we were already informed of another Sensation-like device coming with added NFC support and a better camera. This slightly better device turned out to be the Amaze 4G, which was announced in September and launched earlier this month. There are also two other iterations of the Sensation floating about: the Sensation XL and Sensation XE.

But HTC isn't the only one guilty of saturating the market with too many phones. Samsung is also pretty bad for it. And Motorola is probably one of the worst, at least on Verizon. The DROID X2, DROID 3 and DROID BIONIC all launched within two months of each other, all looking strikingly similar (obviously excluding the slide-out QWERTY on the DROID 3) and touting very similar specifications across the board. We're about to enter November, and the DROID RAZR – a slight upgrade from the BIONIC which only landed last month – will soon arrive. I think this speaks for itself.

I figured as upgrades in specifications and different technologies began to plateau that device releases would eventually begin to slow down. But they haven't. If anything, they're speeding up. Older devices are slipping into oblivion faster than ever and upgrades from one device to another are becoming more and more incremental ... or evolutionary.

This is where Android OEMs could stand to be a little lot more like Apple. The Cupertino-based company, being the sole manufacturer of all iOS devices, has a fairly decent track record of launching one new device per year (16 months this go around). In a world where Android phones launch on nearly a weekly basis, this could seem like a bad thing for Apple, and it may prove to be in the long run as Android keeps rocking Apple's boat each year. But slow and steady wins the race.

I'm not saying Apple will overtake Android down the road; the chances of that happening in the foreseeable future are pretty slim. What I'm saying is Android OEMs should take a step back, slow things down and focus on just a handful of devices each year. Much like Samsung has done with their Galaxy lines thus far, HTC and Motorola should focus on launching one high-end smartphone per year, on all major US carriers. The same should be done with mid-range and low-end phones, too.

I can only imagine that each company is wasting millions, if not billions, each year in manufacturing costs, having to tweak the manufacturing process for each slightly different device. And what about the engineering and design process? When you consider that each manufacturer is going through this process now twenty or more times per year, the numbers start adding up, and they're not small. If they cut back to a handful of devices per year, not only could they cut back costs in a big way, they could also gain a little more customer loyalty and probably put together more solid and consistent devices.

All I know is these perpetual device launches, though they're admittedly great for our business, are getting out of hand. So tell me, readers. Are you tired of your phone being irrelevant as soon as you purchase it? Should manufacturers take a step back and focus on only three or four devices per year (in varying pricing tiers)?


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104 Reactions to this post

"Would less Android phone choices be better?"


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Harden Wallace
Harden Wallace I do not think less Android Devices is the answer however going back to having a flag ship device and ensuring it gets quick updates and holds its position as the "flagship" device is the way to go, because as it stands right now you buy a new device and within a month a new and better one comes out... Example... Droid Bionic --> Droid Razr
Rob O. Allen
Rob O. Allen I concur TOTALLY with this article!
Aaron Couts
Aaron Couts It went from not enough phones to complete saturation, it would be nice and smart if they slowed down abd focused more on quality. They are releasing a ridiculous amount of phones which really have no major differences in them.
Jeremy Ingram
Jeremy Ingram Yes fewer phones better quality
Rene Ramos
Rene Ramos I like the idea of having unlocked, unbranded Android phone for the reason if you want to use them on carriers like "H2O Wireless" and "Simple Mobile".
Vincent Hung
Vincent Hung i hope ICS fixes all the device fragmentation
Travis Rector
Travis Rector yep. i cant figure out which one i want. i want a lot of them, but can only have one, or at least can afford only one
Erman Guido
Erman Guido Definitely! 2 many androids r not really a match 4 Apple. they need 2 focus on a few devices & make them more powerful & better than Apple.
Ehsan Wedee
Ehsan Wedee Yes! They do!
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Android devices are more expensive than the damn iPhone. The 4G LTE devices on Verizon are $299. Compared to a 16 gb iPhone 4s which is $199 and $150 for me when I upgrade. Newer android devices are still $250 with an upgrade. And I love how fandroids want everything to be high quality but cheap. You can't have it both ways.
Daniel Kallini
Daniel Kallini I will always stick to android, but I would agree to them having a lower selection of phones and ensuring that every phone get's it's updates
Bryan Platt
Bryan Platt An how much would they charge you for that one phone all androids would be as expensive as the iPhone an ipad
Bryan Platt
Bryan Platt Hey bud ya don't have to do a damn thing if ya don't wanta if the phones were updated as fast as you wanted you would be getting updates every other day the fact is the companies can't keep up with all of the Developers, ok every other day is exaggerating a little but jailbreaking the ifart is different than rooting an adding roms that literally make the better
Mamahnita Combs
Mamahnita Combs I think if they focus on one phone a year that would leave more time for working on getting updates and os right and bug free.
Chris Mcnug Michniewicz
Chris Mcnug Michniewicz How about just nexus phones
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson
Bryan Platt
Bryan Platt I agree with Jose the fact that their are so many out their keep the things moving keep them affordable if you ppl are so concerned about updates learn how to root that's what makes android # 1 open source don't buy phones that can't be rooted an not supported
Flako Ramirez
Flako Ramirez Yes
Jose Garibay
Jose Garibay Fuck no! That's why android is open source. Nobody forces anyone to upgrade, only "u" decide that. To be honest I love android's diversity, & to have so many options for when "I" decide to upgrade is awesome.
Carlton Littlejohn
Carlton Littlejohn LG should just sell their-self, because they are one of the weakest when it comes to quality and updating.
David Hilgendorf
David Hilgendorf More choices the better for different budgets and usage. Look it where they are.
Charlie Kuroiwa
Charlie Kuroiwa I say why put android on a low end phone. It'll just give you headaches anyway. With all these different phones no wonder some people are put off by android
Abel Jossue Argueta
Abel Jossue Argueta Choice is good, but manufacturers also need to focus on quality.
Paul Davis
Paul Davis yes! Samsung is a huge problem in this situation. Create the SGS and SGSII line with one phone. If you want customization get a friggin pretty glittery hello kitty cellphone case. Updates could be rolling out so much quicker if we used one SGS II phone. Motorola just keeps pushing out different phones every two months that are not compatible with each other. Make two flavors, with and without a physical keyboard. Keep it simple please!
John Smith
John Smith Yup!
Nathan Parks
Nathan Parks Android should only be premium devices. Apple makes people feel almost honored to have an iPhone you can't feel that way with android because anyone can afford it and more than half of them are garbage
Raymond Why
Raymond Why yes fewer devices, more updates Dammit my phone is complete crap. incredible one. more like POS one.
Rogelio Victoria
Rogelio Victoria No.
Jesse James Castro
Jesse James Castro I agree with the HTC should chill with their monthly phone releases and come out with a few flagship phones like Samsung...this year alone moto released the bionic, x2 and the droid 3 and maybe another one I'm not sure, but people love there phones (now if they can just abandon motoblurry)
Zanzi Ok
Zanzi Ok Yes
Chris Northcutt
Chris Northcutt I think multiple options are ok to a certain extent, but the manufacturers are slow to uptdate what they have out already. I have a Samsung Epic, an it has yet to receive a Gingerbread update. A lot of people think it won't, yet the phone is only one year old and many of us when we got the phone signed up for a two year contract. If you have to sign a two year agreement, then the manufacturer should stand behind the product for two years. I'm considering getting a vanilla android phone like a Nexus next time just because I know it will be updated. Apple only releases one new phone each year, but you know that when you buy the phone, it will be updated and it won't be obsolete in a week.
Vincent Lai
Vincent Lai This is so true, quality phones and support is better than more quantity
Johnny Cababe
Johnny Cababe I've been saying this for months. Samsung and Motorola especially. To many devices means the earlier build ones get let behind in updates.
Niko Lapcic
Niko Lapcic Yes bacause Apple is outselling them with just one model...
Mark Gittens
Mark Gittens I get a new phone every 6-8 months. I personally love all the options I have because of android. So I say keep it goin the more the merrier!!!!
Mark E
Mark E I agree and we should especially elimnate those assholes with locked bootloaders...
Anonymous
Anonymous They should spend as much time getting the updates out as the do releasing new devices. Seems even with the high-end devices you have to decide what you're willing to compromise on
Júnia Rosa
Júnia Rosa The more the merrier ... the are an Android for all. High-end to lower end.... for the tech geek to a newbie. More choices the better so long the keep up with the software and not forget older devices.
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider Hell no
Lisa Reed
Lisa Reed Way too many phones...seriously there are at least 3 a week. It's like a buffet around here. Meanwhile Apple has there 1 dedicated phone and iOS & it works for them.
Ediben Yoonan
Ediben Yoonan Yea
Robert Skeen
Robert Skeen Yes. And less confusing on which one 2 get.
Brandon Thompson
Brandon Thompson Yes.
Sulaiman Naveed John
Sulaiman Naveed John yea they shld
Joshua Mikell
Joshua Mikell I been saying this...
Raunaq Kumaran
Raunaq Kumaran OEM's should focus on 3 phones a year....
Scandia Onofre
Scandia Onofre LOVE MY ANDROID!! :)
Michael Diaz
Michael Diaz Yes please new android device every minute takes away from the great ones.
Gary Vivanco
Gary Vivanco Hell yes! Way too many android devices out.
Christopher D. Rhyne
Christopher D. Rhyne I feel that android is fine. I just with we could upgrade once a year instead of the two year buffer. Because it seems like every year phones are being pushed to an entirely new level thus older phones being left behind. And no android phone are not low quality or pieces of junk. My android captivate it running cm7 and running smoothly and can emulate dual core.
Vic Espinoza
Vic Espinoza I think they should release three flagship devices by company(on each network), difrent prices but updates will be no more than a month after google release them....... Or better yet, but just leave them Vanilla and companies are just allowed to add apps, widgets and themes..... A la honeycomb
Jimmy Turner
Jimmy Turner HTC needs to stop with the new hardware and focus just on software. I have the HTC Thunderbolt that has had one problem after the other. Switching to the iPhone!
Dre Ill
Dre Ill Would bread taste better if you could only eat 1 slice? What if you're dating, but could only date once a year? Choice is a beautiful thing.
Mark Cullings
Mark Cullings Why can't everyone*
Rami Serhan
Rami Serhan Definitely, it is confusing to most. Good marketing requires good focus.
Jonathan Recinos
Jonathan Recinos @Tom Parker 90%? Where'd you get that? I know many people who are happy with an Android phone, and don't think of it as "low quality junk."
Mark Cullings
Mark Cullings Why does Ford make so many different models a year? Why can't every drive a Ford focus....
Jonathan Recinos
Jonathan Recinos HTC should. Motorola is sort of in the wrong. I feel Samsung is okay.
Armando Marcial
Armando Marcial They should make less Android phones and focus on updating the current phones with more firmware updates. Everytime a new android phone comes out, they forget about the "older Phones" and stop supporting it or stop making it .
Marie Williams
Marie Williams No!!!!!
Anthony Evans Jr
Anthony Evans Jr more choices is always good better choices always best
Wendy Lindop
Wendy Lindop Definitely. Far too many models currently, it's ridiculous. It makes android appear cheap as many if the devices it runs on are cheap low spec.
Alexander Acosta Del Valle
Alexander Acosta Del Valle Hell yeah it hurts the consumer and the ecosystem of android
Christopher David
Christopher David Keep pumping em out. Don't want to end up like apple and the isheep who rehash the phone and make minor upgrades just so they can keep their business model going for next year.
Bill White
Bill White Agree... The best thing about iPhones are all the accessories. With so many different android phones, there are fewer choices.
Rodger Samiie Myers
Rodger Samiie Myers The problem really isnt quantity..android is distributing their hardware and software to every economic situation...thats where android seriously outshines apple...but at the same time android keeps shitting out these devices...it seriously hits the resell value of the device...its kinda sad that the droid bionic which is brand new has almost the same resell value as a iphone4 which has a couple of years...android has good hardware as it is...they need to focus are there weak points like system support and reliability as well as battery issues...and make better contracts with companies to promote the product
Delvin Favor Chandler
Delvin Favor Chandler I think less andriod phones would be better because the consumer can focus on one phone instead of 2 or 3 released at one time.
Pierce G Hohenstein
Pierce G Hohenstein Uniformity is always the best choice!
silverwolf1977
silverwolf1977 There's no such thing as too many choices.
Sam Anderson
Sam Anderson HTC, motorola, and samsung come together one day in the near future to make one giant super phone capable of decoding the human genome.
Tom Parker
Tom Parker 90% of Android phones are low quality junk. Make less phones, but with better quality.
Gerald Dawkins
Gerald Dawkins Stay the course, android plan works fine. It's the upgrading process that stinks. Need to figure out how to upgrade at least once without affecting your contract.
Kaleb Klee
Kaleb Klee Yes
Ed Brown
Ed Brown Yeah. It's too much. Let a flagship be a flagship. They'll never realize full sales potential of any device. Fewer accessories will be made for these devices. No one ever really knows the flagship so they'll go with iPhone & know they'll have flagship for about a year. It also drives down the price of current units.
Greg Phifer
Greg Phifer That is the biggest problem with android it creates much more fragmentation carriers should make one high end device a year and a couple other devices like a one with a keyboard so consumers have choice but aren't being suffocated with all the choices
Mary Adeline Ramirez
Mary Adeline Ramirez Yes!
Hector Portalatin
Hector Portalatin Apple is Apple okay get that straight were talking about Android, yes I do feel its to many new devices is too much, bring it down @ least 5-4 high-end/high quality devices per year so the people can a choice not just one device :\ right now im rockin with the MyTouch 4G rooted and all the whole 9 yards and its what I want in a phone, communication web & games. Android Baby!
Ciroc Rufai
Ciroc Rufai Phonedog also need to stop writting fewer post b4 android start making fewer phone
Ernest Marvin Esteban
Ernest Marvin Esteban nope. that is the advantage of android. Choices...
Joseph Olvera
Joseph Olvera No, just higher quality phones.
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie Make two phones a year would be ok not more than that
Eric Shayna
Eric Shayna How about no Android devices?
Zack Berkheimer
Zack Berkheimer I still have a mytouch 3g and im using it on att. I love this phone. But i think apples calling my name iphones = less lag & less choices.
Adan Soriano
Adan Soriano Hell no.. That would just make them like apple. One boring device.
Johnny Johnson
Johnny Johnson A better solution would be to shorten the upgrade period from 2 years to 6 months. I know it would affect the subsidized prices of phones, but I would pay extra to get a new phone every six months instead of the 2 years with a buffer of about 3 months before phone envy sets in.
Dhruv Kamat
Dhruv Kamat Nope
Adam Jaramillo
Adam Jaramillo For us and for them.
Adam Jaramillo
Adam Jaramillo Yes.
Aaron Dean
Aaron Dean All of these phone.basically do all the same things.some have better graphics processing. But that's basically it.how many if you though have paid full retail because you couldn't wait.haha there is a reason behind eveything
Junichi Nomura
Junichi Nomura why US only both international version and US version no change in all just have the carrier name that's all lol
Adeeb Salah
Adeeb Salah Yes.. I agree on that.. As more devices come out the less the OS is appreciated amongst other device's OS..!!
Junichi Nomura
Junichi Nomura why US only both international version and US version no change in all just have the carrier name that's all lol
Igor Rebenko
Igor Rebenko Hell no
Jr Saint-Hilaire
Jr Saint-Hilaire Agree with that
Steve Griffith
Steve Griffith its really your choice if you decide to update, at least you have the option to upgrade to a better phone then stuck wit it for 9 + months
Rodger Fulfer
Rodger Fulfer i like all the different android devices it gives more choices for different users.And all those people that like the iPhone you don't get much of a choice what you get iPhone 1-2-3-4-4S Android is smoking the Blackberry and the rotten Apple . Not that i spend that much time thinking about a phone .But Android RULES !!! HA HA okay what every.
Steve Griffith
Steve Griffith more choices are better than just one >_> iphone
Jaime T Hammon
Jaime T Hammon Way too many, identical pieces of hardware on android. Bigger screens, big whoop. Look at Apple. It wasn't until this past year that they had 2 phones on the market and they are selling well. I have yet to hear about mass lines out the door and around the block for an android phone. I have had my fair share of android phones since the G1, but nothing about the platform can really grab me like an iPhone. Sure it's customizable, but bells and whistles are nothing special, just look at windows vista.
Theron Xavier
Theron Xavier I've been saying this for the longest. it's insane to have as many androids as they do now. What's the point to bleed the consumer dry... By locking u into a 2 year deal only to come out with 10 better android phones before your contract even gets close to being up...
Numair Rana
Numair Rana they need to space these phones out on different carriers. look at Verizon, way too many powerful devices on one carrier while you see AT&T with a few high end smartphones.
James Patterson
James Patterson Slow the release of devices, slow the profits. Slow the profits, retard the research. Retard the research, inhibit the society. WHY U HATIN?
Hendrick Equis M
Hendrick Equis M they should worry more about updating software than updating phones every week im so glad u guys use HTC as an example has been getting out of hand lately and the reason i never got the galaxy S2 is cause there was a nexus around the corner and now im wondering if when will we see the S3 iit would be easier if we could go back to 1year contracts.
Jason Dickman
Jason Dickman Focus on battery life or I'm shopping elsewhere.
Boris Kidlet Kidly
Boris Kidlet Kidly And what if it's the other way around? That you have a choice of one Android, one iOS and one WP7 phone every year? Would you be bitching about it then too? More choice is healthy...




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