As we wind down the week of excess known as CES, I've been thinking a lot about the value of less. It runs somewhat counter to the Vegas-fueled vibe of the week, I know -- but for 2013, I'd like to challenge Android manufacturers to step back, breathe, and let less be more.
Sound a little crazy? Let me explain.
My Zen-like thinking actually came about by way of Sony, which unveiled a new flagship phone called the Xperia Z on Monday. As I remarked shortly after the announcement, the Xperia Z looks impressive enough -- but I'm not convinced Sony has what it takes to make the phone matter.
A big part of my skepticism revolves around Sony's lack of focus in the mobile realm. Quite simply, the company devotes too much energy to churning out device after device and not enough attention to making its core products pop.
Sony, of course, isn't the only Android manufacturer guilty of spreading itself unnecessarily thin. Samsung, too, releases about 40 billion barely-different variations of its phones every year (Galaxy S II Plus? Seriously, guys?). Unlike Sony, Samsung does still manage to maintain a level of focus on developing and promoting its flagship products -- the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, namely -- but still, imagine how much better Sammy could serve its customers if it were to scale things back a bit and stop releasing all those also-ran devices.
One can apply the same line of thinking to the subject of design, particularly when it comes to software. Good design almost always revolves around simplicity; what you don't include is just as important as what you do. In their often-misguided attempts to "differentiate," many manufacturers are losing sight of that notion.
Choice and diversity are important elements of the Android ecosystem, but sometimes, less can be more. If manufacturers focus on the things that actually matter in 2013, the level of choice and diversity will become more meaningful -- and consequently more powerful -- than ever.
JR Raphael is a contributing editor at Computerworld and PCWorld, and a regular contributor to numerous other print and online publications.
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