HTC Hero & Android – What’s the value add?

I just watched the official video on HTC Hero and I can’t help wondering what is the value add? Let me say at the outset that I admire the Android platform and handsets adopting it and that what I’m about to say is in no way a criticism. However I would like to ask the question: how will Android and adopting handsets distinguish themselves in the shadow of the iPhone? The fundamental problem that Android and adopting handsets are facing is that it’s all been done before by Apple who have had the added advantage of refining and maturing their product over time. The typical characteristics of the OS and the handset marketed in that video, touchscreen, seamless integration with the internet and catering for all possible needs of the user, have all been done before and replicating that unfortunately gives the impression of lack of originality.

Android attempts to add more animation and eye candy but it’s all too easy to overdo it. The only real unique value add I can see is that they allow you to fully customise your desktop and that in my opinion is one of the annoyances of the iPhone and a real plus point of Android. Some might say that the Android platform being open and supporting multiple languages including Java is a major win. However this cannot be the defining value add as if you have no consumer who will you develop for? For the common consumer there has to be a very real tangible value over alternative platforms and sadly having come much later than the iPhone and being relatively new still Android is in my opinion at a serious disadvantage. It nevertheless shows more promise than Symbian and other non-Apple platforms and in due time I’m sure it will have overcome this difficulty to an extent and established its place on the market. I look forward to its progress in the future. If I can get my hands on an Android handset cheaply maybe I’ll even try my hands on some development.

3 thoughts on “HTC Hero & Android – What’s the value add?

  1. Bruce Cran

    It looks like there are two main things going for the HTC Hero: it’ll have Flash first, and won’t require every user to sign up with O2 to get one. Fortunately I’m already an Orange customer so I should be able to get one in a few weeks. Time to learn what changes there have been to Java in the last 6 years.

  2. Dhruba Bandopadhyay Post author

    Very good points Bruce. Flash and lack of network exclusivity are indeed value adds. Regarding Flash somehow the iPhone has managed to get away without it by supporting YouTube through a dedicated app although it is still a gap in functionality. They should work with Adobe to address it. Regarding O2 although initially I was absolutely distraught at the prospect of joining O2 they’ve actually performed okay in the last year or so for me. I can only hope that they are improving under the load placed by the iPhone customer base and hopefully the exclusivity is time limited and will run out at some point. Did you do Java 6 years ago? That’s a long time! 🙂 I hear Android supports other languages too now such as C/C++ extensions, Lua, Beanshell and Python.

  3. Jef Martens

    Pro’s over iPhone:
    Opener devkit, open platform. Highly customisable roms. Larger developer group. Less steep learning curve Java vs. Cocoa. Easier deployment to market. Outside market deployment of apps. Copy/Paste out of the box. Parallel program running. Focus on re-use of code by enabling other packages to access your program. Less threatening ‘kill switch’ feature. No iTunes forced.

    Contra’s: less focus on design of hardware. More developers means more useless programs in the market. Weak search function in the Android Market. Standards for sound and pictures may vary across hardware manufacturers, need differentiated products. The hero can have a feeling of ‘lag’ in controls, because of certain design choices in Sense UI.

    The largest benefits although are freedom of choice of carrier, and for smartphones in general that you increase useability through apps.


Leave a Reply