The paper, based on analysis of 600,000 support calls to mobile carriers, details some mistakes they have made in selecting, marketing, and updating Android phones.
It concentrates primarily on the effects of hardware and software fragmentation caused by Google's relative lack of control over phone manufacturing standards and OS update rollouts.
They found 12.6% of Android support calls ended up with a hardware fault being diagnosed, costing carriers approximately $2 billion a year. In large part they chalk this up to failure by carriers to adequately test phones before choosing to offer them to customers.
More than 25% of smartphones, they say, are manufactured by relatively unknown manufacturers, and most of them run Android.
By comparison, support calls for BlackBerry phones had a 5.5% rate of hardware faults, iPhones 8%, and Windows Phone 7 came in at 11%. They suggest the difference between Android and Windows Phone likely stems from the tighter hardware control exercised by Microsoft.
The report also warns operators about the issues which can be caused by OS updates, or the lack of them. Citing an October 2011 study, they say, "of 18 Android devices from the US, 10 were at least two major versions behind within their two-year contract period."
That's a fairly staggering, but perhaps not particularly surprising statistic. However, they also say update rollouts are becoming quicker and more consistent among most handset vendors.
On top of that, they warn of the dangers of carrier bloatware:
In one example from 2010, a UK operator was forced to apologize to its customers after fielding a storm of complaints from users unhappy with the addition of ?bloatware? ? unnecessary software added by the operator that couldn?t easily be removed, in an Android 2.1 update. Customers complained that the additions slowed their devices and inhibited some functionality (including SMS notifications).
Despite the challenges laid out in the paper, WDS is not suggesting carriers shy away from Android, which they credit with having "democratized" the smartphone market in a way that benefits manufacturers, carriers, and consumers.
Once attached to a network, analysis shows that there is no great disparity in the time taken to resolve customer problems on the Android platform than any other smartphone platform. Ultimately, Android devices are no easier, nor more difficult, to troubleshoot than a comparative product from an alternate OS vendor.
Instead, they caution carriers to be careful about selecting models to sell, properly train sales staff to match customers with the right OS and phone, and be prepared for the occasional update issues.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 3 Nov 2011 4:21