Advertising: Why Android Device Makers are Still Doing it Wrong

By , Sep 19, 2011

If you’ve watched TV for any extended amount of time in the past 5 years, you’ve likely seen at least one of Apple’s commercials. From the “I’m a Mac” series, to the more recent “If you don’t have an iPhone” campaign, the company’s advertising has been top notch.

But the TV ads aren’t highly revered because of their content — people admire them because they work. They portray products that make technology simple and easy to use, and that’s attractive to the general public. But Android on the other hand…

While I acknowledge that Android (and its 60+ available models) phones are currently beating Apple in market share, there isn’t a single device that has sold anywhere close to the amount of units as the iPhone 4 or 3GS. And as far as tablets? Forget about it.

In case you haven’t noticed, Apple products aren’t just for Starbucks-drinking hipsters anymore. Through advertising, Apple has convinced the general public that their products are easy to use — alleviating the fear that technology is complicated. Watch:

This iPad 2 commercial is the perfect example of Apple pitching its product to the masses, not just to the geeks. “Faster, thinner, lighter, those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful.”

But for some reason, Android-device-makers seem intent on cutting their target audience down to just the people that understand terms like “1 GHz processor” and “4G LTE.” It’s extremely evident in this recent Droid Bionic ad.

Did you see the subtlety-placed Bionic features? 8MP 1080p HD, HDMI terminal, and dual core processor can all been seen in the first 30 seconds of the advert. The problem is that the group of people that understand what those things are is fairly small.

Obviously you can’t judge a company’s marketing strategy off a single commercial, but you get the idea. My mom, who is by far the least tech-savvy person I know, has an iPhone. She bought it because it looked easy to use. Weird.

With Apple expected to release more than one new smartphone model this Fall, on multiple new carriers, Android is going to have to step up its marketing game. It can’t keep relying on cheap prices and 50 different handsets to maintain its market share lead.

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  • Rick Perry

    Yeah I just plain don’t like Android. If I was gonna leave Apple I’d get a windows phone.

    • Dylan

      I’m voting for ron Paul

  • John doe

    Your right. Simplisity draws brainless people. This year im not purchasing the iphone 5 and going android.

    • Bryant

      +1

    • David M

      I consider myself a very tech-saavy consumer. I’m a software developer by trade, and am familiar with all the terms listed in the Android article. Still, I don’t feel like my phone should necessarily cater to my sense of techiness. It shouldn’t be complicated for complexity’s sake, and it shouldn’t require me to have to use my techie skills to maintain it.

      Personally, I have the iPhone 4 (after a long and lengthy mental debate about which I should get), and I love it.

      The real question is, whose brains should have to exert effort for a consumer product? Should it be the brains of the producer, or the brains of the consumer. As a dev, I can say for certain that it takes a greater amount of brain power to create a “dead simple”, “black-box” device than it does one that shows it’s blueprints clearly. It takes less amount of brain power on the consumer, however.

      And isn’t usability the point when it comes to these things?

      I think that Android has their marketing campaign dead on. They want to market to people who want to market their own tech saavy, so they market using tech saavy words. iPhone wants to market to people who want to live their lives and be okay not being tech-saavy. And that’s fine too. It’s a difference in philosophy. Android users view iPhone users as brainless, and iPhone users view Android users as intellectually arrogant.

      Why can’t we all just get along?

      • Ian

        iPhone for usability, Android for Capability. But Android is getting more usable by the day for many users. We’ll see how both platforms evolve and respond.

      • Jorge

        I Agree and I have an Iphone 4 and now a Samsung Galaxy 2. Definetely Iphone is a nice phone and good for majority of people, but if you are more tech savy and you care about a super fast and powerful phone then Galaxy 2 is the most advance smartphone. Iphone 4 is way behind Galaxy 2 technology and I really doubt Iphone 5 can compete in terms of technology. What I realize is that many Iphone users beliweve they have a very advanced Smartphone and they don´t even know that is what apple marketing campaings make them believe. I have to admit apple marketing is the most powerful out there.

      • @pixelsguy

        @David M –
        I think you’re correct in the assertion that Motorola’s marketing is smartly targeting the tech-savvy, spec-conscious consumer. Your point about creating and developing a black-box product being more technically difficult than creating one that wears its components on its shoulder is also dead-on (surprise, I’m a developer, too).

        I think that in general the Android OEM product strategy is pretty on-target: they are packing serious features and hardware specs (some of which are not and will not ever be on the competing iPhone/iOS platform) into their products. Over the past year the Android user experience has also become far more user-friendly and I think that Android is now at a point where the non-tech-oriented will find the OS user-friendly enough even when compared to iOS.

        However, I disagree that their marketing strategy is dead-on. The tech people who know (and more importantly understand and value) the features they’re pushing as key selling points will be able to find this information elsewhere. When any of the major Android OEMs are about to release a new device, the internet is abuzz with the new features. In every corner of the internet, posts are written about just how much it outclasses the current Apple offering’s technical capabilities.

        That information – the hard sell, based on technical capabilities and specifications – is available for anyone thinking of buying a new device. If that’s what is going to drive your purchasing decision, that part of the sell is handled by way of the Android-iPhone blog wars and the press releases from the OEMs themselves (not to mention the punditry that follows). Motorola’s marketing stragey does not account, in any way, for the emotional part of the sell. This is one of the major things Apple focuses on, and something they are absolutely crushing right now in their ads. I think that Motorola and the other Android OEMs are missing the boat. They should be using their digital marketing to push features and fuel the OS debate(s) online, and using their broadcast marketing to make the soft sell- the one that can bring the people on board who don’t have a clue, or don’t care, what HDMI and dual-core mean.

    • 2zafe

      Nice spelling John Doe.

    • R

      As an IT consultant, I consider myself highly tech savvy. I can build a computer in my sleep. While Android devices push my buttons with their high spec numbers, they fall short in one major area: games. What good is 1.4 ghz in a phone if you can’t use it to play games? And the App Store is full of games (a lot are crappy, but there are SO many good ones. Zombie Gunship, anyone?) that will never know what an Android device is.

      On customization, once your device is jailbroken, there really is no limit to what you can do if you have the know how. I have yet to see an Android device (let alone iPhone) that has been modified to the extent that my iPhone has.

      • Jorge

        Yeah you say it, jailbroken device which means now you have an opén operating system and what about those crappy Safe mode issues on your jailbroken device? also, I bet your Iphone is slower tnat an Iphone non jailbroken.

      • R

        I rarely hit the safe-mode screen. All my tweaks, luckily, play nice. Yes, it does run slower, but I have a 3GS. It’s a compromise I make for the added functionality, ease of use, and uniqueness. I’ll be an early adopter of the 5 and should have no issues with speed. It’ll have the specs to please people who like numbers, and the simplicity to please the masses.

      • tethtoril

        You have got.to.bear in mind you can do more.ina non rooted android.phone than n iphonr. Also.rooting which is the android.equivalent.of.jaikbreaking is much the sake. They both require 1 click, however the manufacturers in most cases don’t.get.rid.of.toot.with each updated. Whereas each version removes the jailbreak x each android.one builds.on.functionality.while.still letting yhr end user.that may be tech savvy to.do.his. wish.

      • tethtoril

        You have got.to.bear in mind you can do more.ina non rooted android.phone than n iphonr. Also.rooting which is the android.equivalent.of.jaikbreaking is much the sake. They both require 1 click, however the manufacturers in most cases don’t.get.rid.of.toot.with each updated. Whereas each version removes the juailbreak x each android.one builds.on.functionality.while.still letting yhr end user.that may be tech savvy to.do.his. wish.

    • Jucape

      Wow even simplicity was written right. Brainless…? Hmmm

    • javierE186

      LMFAO funny stuff John Doe tries to rip on Apple and the SIMPLICITY (look at the spelling, now write it down 100 times then recite, lastly rinse and repeat) of their commercials but he failed at spelling man you have to love people.

      @pixelsguy Sir you hit it right on the head. A true “tech-savvy” consumer knows how to truly look for what is the best on the market. One doesn’t focus on commercials like the Android ones to know the actual specs, one does the research. These commercials are for the people that think they are part of the tech-savvy group. They see all the standard specs and say “wow that is a great device I should get it. It has a 1 GHz dual core processor that is a must get”. One needs to compare and contrast the specs in real time use and also keeping in mind what purpose the device is needed for. As for Apple commercials one can get drawn into the simplicity of the device. The fact being that even though the specs are just a fraction of what other smartphones may have the ease is just to great for most people to give up. Look at what happened to Linux-based computers. The fact that until people become actual tech-geeks (we know who we are xD) or the so-called “tech-savvy” users, Apple will have the upper hand. (Well not in population numbers since Windows and Android control that, but in Capital Stock and Consumption)

    • comex

      +1

  • Rich

    My friens just got the Bionic within 24 hours he was running windows on it. Not a good sign imo.

  • Morgan Ryzen

    In all my years of introducing and using new products, the ones that ‘made it’ were the ones that didn’t require the users to change the way they did things – or not make any big, difficult changes anyway. You may be smart enough to appreciate the technology, but for everyday life you shouldn’t have to constantly deal with it, it should be out of the way as it works. I guess that’s “It Just Works”

  • http://www.YouTube.com/user/MRTWIT21 Mrtwit21

    I like the add but at first I thought it was a movie with hot chics that get naked and fright robots then the phone apeared which kinda ruined it for me

    • John doe

      Lmao! Screw smartphones where are the boobs?

      • goofygreek

        +infiniti.

      • ian chen

        superrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr funny

  • Night

    Never, never underestimate the ability of people to buy a product only because it has more of something even if they do not understand it.

    Hmmm this phone has 5k of Gigatrons, but this has 10k Gigatrons for the same money!!!! (and I have witness this)

    • Svnelvn

      This is very true if you look at the camera megapixel war several Yeats back. One year it was 3mp, next year 5mp, then 8mp, 12mp. But do they really take netter pictures? This megapixel war appears to have slowed down for now though, I don’t see any 50mp phone cameras from Sony.

  • mike gibbons

    I just figured Android marketers knew something I didnt about the smartphone market – maybe the real target is 14 year old gamers – who else would get the good vs. Evil video gam themes? iPhone isn’t the really DEVIL or a cyborg to kill….I’ll give yo this steve jobs may in fact be a cyborg That would explain a lot

  • babe

    i usually love hi tech specs on ads, but somehow apple simple ads always fun, and keeps on memory. it redefines good ad.

    That droid is pure bad ads, too fast text, almost no pointing story, just fighting, and definitely not interesting. Hire another ad agent, moto!

  • Dylan

    Look at this S2 Commercial.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g92G128lW40

  • Duke

    If Sprint really does get the iPhone I may try it out. ATT and Verizon Bullshit data Caps have kept me on Sprint forever now.

  • Josh

    Ok, guys. This is a place to comment on, not to WRITE BOOKS.

  • MrP

    You just said 60+ android available while iphone only have 3g,3gs or 4.
    There’s many choices in android platform while ios is those 3.
    If a single android device sales can be higher than iphone, then iphone fail miserably

    • David M

      But that’s simply not the case. Read the article again. No single Android device is selling better than the iPhone on the whole. Android devices all put together are, however. The sales from all 60+ Android devices outdo the sales from the three or four models of iPhone. No 1 Android device sells better than any one of the iPhone models currently on the market.

  • colin

    wtf, what is wrong with that?
    i want to know the details of a phone I’m buying, i want to compare the hardware,
    i don’t care if it’s ‘easy’ to use,
    it’s down to personal preference, because there are more noobs in the world, more apple products are sold when clearly devices like samsunng galaxy s II are better

  • techno709

    rofl for some reason my iphone’s reception problem isnt happeing anymore i remove the bumper and it still works fine

  • http://twitter.com/geekinit geekinit

    I’m very tech savvy. I’ve done everything from building PCs, hackint0sh computers, mainframe, Microsoft .net development, objective-c development, Linux servers, HTML/JavaScript, etc etc. That said, I’m always busy. Frankly, I love iPhone and Macs for their quality. Sure, once in a while Samsung, Dell or whoever gets it right but there’s just too many variables and I don’t have time for it anymore. Apple consistently gives me what I want.