Forget Android for a minute and picture this: There’s a guy, his name is Froid. Froid is at the stage in life where he’s made some cash. Good for Froid! He and his wife (husband or whatever) have a pair of rugrats that are starting to look like real humans. Congrats, Froid. Froid bought his white picket fence cookie cutter home in some happy and indistinguishable suburban development a few years back and recently started to recognize differences between his cookie cutter home and the other 5 on his cul-de-sac. There’s no question that Froid is doing well for himself; he’s living the textbook life his friends planned for when growing up. And as he leaves and returns home on his way to and from work everyday he sees many of them are doing the exact same thing. As days, months, years pass there’s a deepening void in his life that grows increasingly uncomfortable.
Then one Wednesday after work, when he was walking out of the supermarket with a cold six pack and the void in his life unmistakably piercing through a forced smile, a mystical shaman approaches Froid. The shaman tells Froid that his smile looks forced and he doesn’t belong in the life he’s living. The shaman’s words grab Froid’s attention. The shaman notices. Froid continues listening. The shaman says Froid has been repressing his true self to follow the path of others. The shaman’s comments strike a nerve.
That night Froid goes online to find boarding schools for the kids and a hippy colony for him and the wife to join, he drafts a resignation letter, puts the house up for sale, decides to take up hemp farming, and finishes his Wednesday night Natty Ice six pack for the last time. Over the next 12 months happiness fills the void; Froid becomes a new person. His hemp farm is successful. The kids have never been better. He no longer needs a designated social night because he’s surrounded by friends all the time. Froid has reinvented himself. He created his own life based on what he truly loves and what works for him. Maybe this life wouldn’t suit most other people Froid used to hang out with, but he flourishes.
End of Story.
Back to reality and to Android: There are many generic mass market Android tablets and phones available. Consumer brands spend millions of dollars conceiving these devices and convincing you why theirs is the best. For most people these products are great. Your business is not ‘most people’. As a business that uses an Android device to deliver a special service or value to your clients the device has unique needs that are different from what ‘most people’ want. Much like when Froid broke the lifestyle mold, using the same Android hardware for your Android advertising display, Android medical device, Android IoT device, or any other Android device that most people use for social media and watching videos just doesn’t make sense.
Manufacturing a custom Android device makes sense for certain companies for many reasons. One of the main ones: Control.
Consumer brands come out with new product models each year for many good reasons. Customers want products with the latest technology. Making a new model brings a wave of new sales. Brands need to have flagship products to show off their engineering and product development capabilities. As often as brands come out with a new model they stop making an old model.
Real talk: Developing your business’s app takes 6 months. Testing and debugging takes another 4 months. Rollout takes 6 months. Now you find out that the consumer device all your development was done on won’t be produced anymore in 6 months.
Options: Do you have enough cash to invest in inventory? Do you plan to buy risky second hand devices in the future? Neither of these are long term options. So you need to spend more money on software updates and testing to ensure your app will work on a new device, knowing all along that less than a year later you’re going to have to face the same challenges again. This means that over time your different customers will have different hardware versions. That’s tough for you to manage. In some cases the same one of your customers will have different hardware versions. That’s tough for everyone to manage. Simultaneously having to manage multiple versions of hardware is costly, inefficient, and dangerous for your business. On the other hand with your own custom Android device you get more reliable, long term, and consistent hardware, stretching your development budget and increasing operational efficiency. Even with a custom device changes are sometimes inevitable, but it’s usually more transparent, minor, and controllable.
Your custom Android device should come with only the system apps needed to run your business app and nothing else. Less is more. There’s no good reason for any unnecessary third party apps to run or sit on your device. When making a custom Android tablet or custom Android phone you choose exactly which apps you need and which you don’t need. Limiting embedded apps maximizes system performance and minimizes risk of viruses or data hacking.
Each product Hatch works on comes with a different hardware spec. The dynamic nature of manufacturing custom Android products means Hatch must integrate different components to deliver the uniquely tailored products our customers require. One product doesn’t need a camera while another product requires a high resolution camera with a custom module for near distance fixed focus. One product doesn’t require any screen while another requires two screens. Another product requires two full size SD memory card slots while some others don’t have any memory cards. The list could go on. When making your product the first thing Hatch looks at are your hardware specs. We build a product’s component architecture around either hardware or performance requirements (whichever the customer can provide). The more your hardware reflects your company’s actual business needs the more value you will get from a custom Android product.
Depending on the features or hardware of your device a custom case design may be the only option. If your device doesn’t require a custom case, but you’d like to visually distinguish your product for branding or use-case optimization making a custom Android device allows you to design the case that’s uniquely suitable to you.
Manufacturing a custom Android product is the perfect option for companies in the position to do so; not for every company though. For all the reasons to make a custom Android device there are reasons not to make one as well. A few reasons NOT to go custom include:
- New companies that have a new software should use a generic device for testing purposes as much and as long as possible. Ideally go through alpha testing using a generic device.
- Under funded companies should not go custom. Making custom hardware is expensive and time consuming. Expect to spend $300k and (usually) more before seeing your first mass production product. Less than this means the volume is too low to justify doing a custom product.
- You don’t have a proven market yet. In this case definitely get feedback using generic devices to gauge market demand. With several projects Hatch’s client is the business actually using the end product. In that case they represent the market, meaning reliable demand exists.
Based on the above information if now is the right time for you to sell the house and move to a hippy colony or to make a custom Android phone or tablet stop thinking and start acting! Reach out to Hatch and, together, we’ll evaluate the Android opportunity. As for the hippy colony, unfortunately we aren’t qualified to help with that. 🙂