When you play with a Nexus device with vanilla Android and no crap apps installed by default, it's great. It's very comparable to an iPhone experience. If Google installed more of their 1st party apps by default, it would be even better.
Yet most devices shipped by Verizon have 7-10+ apps that are absolute garbage and distract from the experience.
It's entirely analogous to laptops. Windows isn't terrible. Windows combined with the 20 apps that Dell shipped by default is terrible.
Don't let the middlemen (Dell/HP for Microsoft, Verizon/AT&T for Google) define your user experience.
This is not, as you think, simple. There are no margins in commoditized devices. If they all trend toward being identical and low cost, all partners will find the most exceedingly clever ways to differentiate from each other or boost margins. Software is a prime target.
You also speak of "letting" vendors ship crapware. Let? This is an open platform. Google only has control if vendors desire the Google goodies that cost a little bit of money. Also, how much leverage do they have exactly against a carrier like Verizon, which is their primary sales channel? Not as much as you would think. As this article points out, forking Android (especially to Samsung) is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to playing ball with Google, and the consequences would be pretty disastrous if they were to do that.
This hedge of doing their own hardware represents yet another challenge with your shockingly simple solution: that supply chain management in this market is really difficult, especially if you have some killer ideas in mind for new kinds of hardware (i.e., using materials other than plastic, new experimental displays, sensors, etc.) How quickly did Nexus 4's sell out? It's very possible that demand was strong, but the double-glass enclosure probably proved to be more of a headache than originally conceived to manufacture.
So it's not simple. This market is difficult, fraught with trust issues and risks in doing it all yourself.
Except a high quality Android phone is not a commodity. It's a premium product that no one (outside the Nexus line and the OG Droid) has created. If there's a segment of the market interested in such a product (which is what everyone believes), then they will be willing to pay a premium for it.
> As this article points out, forking Android (especially to Samsung) is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to playing ball with Google, and the consequences would be pretty disastrous if they were to do that.
Forking is not an issue because that would remove access to the Play Store, without which a smartphone simply would not be competitive. Look at the Kindle Fire - it had the advantage of being a tablet (where Android apps are still being developed), coming out quite a while back (again, app situation more favorable than now), having an existing content ecosystem (which Samsung doesn't), and being their first foray into the hardware/Android market (not the case for Samsung).
At this point, Samsung really doesn't have any choice but to stick to just skinning Android if it wants to keep selling phones.
They also want to maintain control, and so playing manufacturers off of each other helps with that.
It's hard to control the user experience when you don't control the hardware. Apple's been saying that for years, in deeds if not in so many words. Maybe Google, Microsoft, et. al have felt that licensing is a better business model than selling, and who am I to say otherwise?
I do agree with you that one shouldn't let the middlemen dictate the user experience. But I think the problem Android has is that they get stuck on some crappy phone hardware, on phones where you aren't using (or can't use?) the latest OS (forgive me, I'm not a regular Android user); don't you think that's much worse than being stuck with OEM pre-installed apps, even if they are crapware?
I have a friend that really loves Sony laptop hardware. Every time he buys one, though, he has to spend a day cleaning off the bloatware. It literally goes from a sluggish Windows filled with crap to reasonable OS.
As for the "controlling the hardware" comment, I completely agree. How many Windows laptops have I had that had terrible close-the-lid-and-sleep behavior? Every single one of them. A colleague had a laptop overheat and almost catch fire because he closed the lid, and after assuming it slept, putting it in his laptop bag. A couple of hours later he removed it only to find the thing was too hot to touch. This kind of thing is much rarer on Macs because Apple owns the whole stack and can make sure everything plays well together.
been there, I had to clean up a friend's laptop, it was a new one straight from the store and it barely worked until I removed all the sony crapware. and it was one of the expensive ones at the time (17'' or sth).
I got a personal motto, not to buy equipment which name starts with an S and ends with a Y. Sony is a perfect proof of the rule that hardware companies shouldn't write their software.
OT, but don't bother doing that. Just re-install Windows from scratch and download only the drivers you need from Sony.
Having enjoyed stock android for a while now, I thought this was bizarre but perhaps a bit true.