Manufacturers need an exchange policy for color swappingEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Colorful phones aren't new. They've been around for quite some time, in fact. It's true that we went through a sort of lull, though. For a long time we saw the same black phones, dominated by touchscreens. A simple design, sure, but one that some manufacturers perfected over the years. Still, to this day, we can find plenty of black (or white, sometimes) slabs on the market, vying for our attention.
Nokia (of course it's Nokia. It had to be Nokia.) changed all of that. They brought us out of our slump, and showcased a small squadron of ridiculously colorful phones. From red, to yellow, to white and cyan, the company showed us that our phones didn't have to be boring blocks of plastic, or aluminum and glass. They could stand out, right from the first glance.
I think it's great that Nokia brought color back into our lives, and I think it's awesome that some manufacturers out there have followed in stride. (More need to catch on.) But, to be honest, just bringing colorful phones back to the high-end market isn't what they should be congratulated on.
They should be given a pat on the back for not releasing them one at a time, over the course of a few months.
When Nokia unveils, or I should say unveiled, a new phone they did so with plenty of color right out of the gate. Even their latest devices have managed to take much of the color gamut with them, with plenty of yellows and reds. It's true that they've kind of dropped off since the release of the Lumia 900, but they're still doing more colorful work than a lot of other companies, so that has to count for something.
But again, it's not really about the company offering colors that should get the attention here. Instead, I want you to look at their release. I want you to look at the fact that when they announce a device, they do so with all of the color options on stage at the same time. You know what's coming, and where. No surprises.
If there's anything that drives me crazy about our favorite phone manufacturers, it's that they seem to hate showing off all their cards during an announcement. Samsung, HTC and LG are all guilty of this. Even Motorola is, too, considering they release Droid-branded devices for Verizon in a staggered format, too, usually with color being the only differentiator. (They kind of get a pass with the Moto X and G, though.)
And it apparently just doesn't stop. HTC is growing to be the worst offender at this point. With the One flagship device, they did the right thing by offering it in two colors right off the bat: silver and black. While not ridiculously colorful by any means, they both did stand out in their own way. However, that didn't really last all that long. Rumors of a red-hued One were pretty quick to surface, and sure enough the device does indeed exist -- even if its trapped behind an exclusive agreement.
So, now we've got black, silver and red. That'd be enough, right? Nope. How do you feel about blue things? Like, say, a blue HTC One? Yeah, sounds pretty nice, right? After all the rumors and leaks, sure enough, it exists, and that, too, is locked behind a weird exclusive, too.
There's also an 18-carat gold HTC One, but since that's not a phone for normal people, I'm just going to skip it.
But that doesn't mean you can't have a gold One! Oh, no, HTC has you covered! They just announced a gold version that drops the 18-carat ridiculousness (and price tag), and just offers another hue to choose from. Months after the initial launch of the device. And only a few months before it's rumored to be replaced by the One's successor.
That makes five variants in the color option market for the One, with the most unique options released months later, and locked behind weird, inexcusable exclusive deals. It's ridiculous!
This is why I think manufacturers should have an exchange policy for this sort of thing. If they're going to release phones like this, then they should give the option for consumers to pick the color they want -- even if it's well after the fact of their first purchase. I love the One, and that's why I bought it. I've tried both the black and silver options, but after seeing the red and blue options? Yeah, I won't those devices. And yet I can't. So, I miss out on the best color options (in my opinion) because of HTC's decisions.
Why not just release them all at the same time, under the same carriers, and at the same time? Or, if you can't actually launch all of them at the same time, because of manufacturing issues or something, at least tell customers that they exist and when they are coming. That's better than just sideswiping consumers, and making it harder, if not downright impossible, for them to get the phone they *really* want.
What do you think? Have you ever bought a phone, only to be surprised by the release of a different colored option -- one that you'd actually prefer? Would you like it if manufacturers offered up an exchange policy for that type of situation? Let me know!