Considerations when starting development of a Custom Android Device

Out Sourced Development

Usually companies that contact Hatch to make custom android tablets or custom android phones have more in-house expertise with software than hardware since the core value of their product comes from the software (front end and/or backend) that’s interfacing with the Android device. The end product, often with a custom case design and almost always with specialized software, serves a unique application. In some cases our clients have respectable hardware or electric engineering knowledge, but rarely when the project begins do they have a lot of China manufacturing experience. Some clients like coming to Shenzhen during the product development and/or manufacturing phases during which time they can learn a lot about the process while their product is getting made. This raises the question of how much involvement should our clients have with the creation of their product. In most cases companies just want to get their product made and would prefer to stay away from the details of how that happens, but once someone arrives in Shenzhen human nature takes over and the client gets pulled closer to the process.

Sometimes a client dives deeper into the process when progress doesn’t go as they had expected. Before they realize that small problems get resolved all the time throughout the product development process, an inexperienced person or company gets nervous easily. After going through the ups and downs of the first order their confidence and threshold of tolerance increases, which makes repeat projects happier for everyone :). The first time is different though. It’s similar to a protective parent who feels safer wrapping their first child in bubble wrap instead of clothes, but after learning babies don’t die so easily let their second infant run around like a wild man. How deep a client needs to get into the development process to feel comfortable is a question with many different answers, depending on who answers it. This article discusses the pluses and minuses of outsourcing and (sometimes) micro managing your Android device’s development process.

For a client that has a lot going on with marketing, software development, etc… granting Hatch (or another supplier) the space and freedom to take care of hardware and firmware (Android OS) development is the right way to go. Using Hatch to handle this process saves time, money, and endless headaches just like a good contractor does for constructing a building.

Outsourcing hardware reduces the amount of internal resources our customer needs to spend on the project. While this also creates distance between the customer and the development in many cases this isn’t an issue because it allows the customer to focus more on key parts of their business. The hardware supports the key values that Hatch’s customers create. Key values that drive Hatch’s customers’ business include the software/apk, branding, marketing, and sales. A company should utilize internal resources on the most important part of the company.

Relationships and work experience between companies have a big impact on achieving the best results. When companies have strong relationships and experience working together the resulting ease of communication and mutual understanding creates unique efficiencies that help projects go more smoothly. For example companies who work together on a multitude of projects know each others’ capabilities to an individual worker level so can ask for special favors and the people know each other at a personal level. From a more general level the people also have more patience with each other because the economic significance of the relationship exceeds any one problem. A one time client could never create this sort of dedication and efficiency. When a client gets too engaged they sometimes want to stay in the office ‘supervising,’ however this may have little benefit, unless the client has specific information to contribute such as in relation to their APK or OS customization requirements.

A dedicated production management company like Hatch brings a broad network of supply chain contacts. (Just to be clear in this article Hatch is simply an example. The principles in this article apply to many companies across multiple industries.) When companies within a specific industry know each other multiple suppliers compete for the same business opportunities which forces them to work harder to earn that business. A company like Hatch understands how to maximize this scenario by asking precise and detailed questions to help evaluate the chances of success with each vendor, ultimately selecting the one with the highest chance for success given all the specific details of a given project. Companies within the same industry in close physical proximity to each other develop relationships and learn from each other by discussing opportunities, technical, and business issues which affect the industry. This kind of relationship building takes time, especially in China where trust is built over time, and cannot be achieved by sending over an engineer to monitor one project.

A company like Hatch, which routinely manufactures Android products, has more leverage within the Android supply chain because it represents a long term business opportunity which suppliers want to tap into. Either a supplier is already getting the business and therefore must provide a high level of service to continue getting it or a new supplier will want the business and works hard to obtain it. Moving to a new supplier generally happens when an old supplier has failed to deliver and fails to show interest in improving. For a niche Custom Android project, working with dedicated and capable experts is undoubtedly more important than working with a big company. An expert ensures the specific requirements of the project are communicated to all members of the supply chain in a way that everyone understands and can act on. By clearly defining everyone’s role the expert then coordinates responsibility among the different constituents of the project. For custom Android projects a bigger company often uses lower level managers who don’t have incentive or authority to get things done quickly. Due to the lack of caring supervision larger companies often apply the same low cost and low quality standards to the more minute details of a custom Android project.

Companies that want to make custom Android products are well served leveraging the help of a caring and dedicated third party to ensure their interests are represented throughout the process and results are delivered in the quickest and safest manner possible.