I always knew that Android’s large number of licensed OEM’s was leading to substandard hardware quality but this is pretty bad. A study by WDS found that out of 600,000 customer support calls fielded for each device category only 3.7% of BlackBerry support calls were for hardware issues. This compares to 14% for Android, 9% for Windows Phone, and 8% for iPhone. Kudos to RIM’s engineers.
This is significant because hardware issues are not something that can be solved by customer service agents over the phone. They either need to be replaced by the carrier or customer or the customer simply has to live with the defect. WDS details in their study explaining why Android is leading to both high and low quality hardware but Craig Rich, Chief Marketing Officer at WDS breaks it down in one paragraph why the overall Android experience may be suffering due to lower priced devices:
“Mobile operators have to make some important decisions when selecting which smartphones to range on their networks,” adds Rich. “They must balance the need to introduce low-cost smartphone devices with the Total Cost of Ownership; how much it costs them to manage that device in their network for the duration of the subscription. A $100 smartphone might not look so attractive if it drives x3 more support traffic over its lifetime, has an above-average return rate or damages the customer experience in a way that increases the likelihood of the consumer churning. “
While these numbers make sense for Android and Windows Phone do to multiple licensees I was surprised to see Apple had such a high number at 8%. They follow the same model as RIM by making both the hardware and developing their own OS and are known for high end products. That makes me wonder if maybe Google needs to start setting some hardware quality standards for Android branded handsets to ensure it does not deteriorate their brand.
David was actually pointing out to me this week that RIM was originally known for having a rock solid device line. I remember you had to hit your 8700 with a hammer if you wanted to break it. The trackball did lead to some more hardware repairs but RIM fixed that with the trackpad. The upcoming Bold 9900 seems to be another example of solid RIM engineering and I cannot wait to get my hands on it as my personal device.
The numbers from the WDS come from a study done from June 2010-May 2011 and covered 600,000 technical support calls taken by WDS across Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia. Check out the full study press release here.