There have been unsubstantiated claims about Android returns in the last few months and it has sparked a fierce debate about the platform. A recent report has provided some actual numbers, but there’s still a lot to argue about.
Android has become the most popular mobile platform thanks to its open nature and the lack of restrictions on manufacturers. While Apple, RIM and Microsoft strictly control the software and the hardware specs of their mobile platforms, Google places no restrictions on manufacturers producing Android handsets and there are several versions of the platform in use. The lack of barriers and the wide range of smartphones available at different price points has undoubtedly been a key factor in driving Android’s popularity, but there is a downside.
A recent report from WDS Global, claims that Android device returns are costing operators $2 billion a year. Their study analyzed over 600,000 technical support calls and found that relatively speaking the highest number related to Android. As the Guardian pointed out, using Gartner’s estimates on market share, Android has a 40% share but accounted for 52% of calls. This compares to an 18% share for iOS with 22% of calls, 15% share for BlackBerry OS with 20% of calls, and a less than 5% share for Windows Phone with 6.7% of calls.
The most expensive problems for operators relate to hardware, and Android once again had the highest percentage at 14% of calls relating to hardware problems compared with 11% for Windows Phone, 7% for iOS and 6% for BlackBerry. Of course a percentage without numbers can be very misleading.
When we dig into this evidence further, and take a look at what WDS is saying in response to the articles using their research, we find the VP of Marketing and author of the report, Tim Deluca-Smith, saying "Our analysis does not find any inherent fault with the Android platform. Its openness has enabled the ecosystem to grow to a phenomenal size, at a phenomenal rate." But, he added: "It's this success that is proving challenging."