Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday August 20, 2013.
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Oppo isn't on the radar for most people when it comes to smartphones, but the growing Chinese manufacturer has provided an example that could teach bigger firms like Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony. Oppo yesterday announced its R819 smartphone running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean. A major selling point of the R819 is that it will soon offer another "Color" ROM with heavy customizations by Oppo and another ROM running stock Android. Customers will have the choice of which ROM is best for their needs and an easy way to install it.
Why isn't this a standard Android feature?
The Android enthusiast crowd has long called on companies to provide a way to run cutting-edge hardware without sacrificing performance and brisk updates because of deep customizations implemented by phone makers. The Nexus program delivered on the stock Android dream but was quickly outpaced on a hardware level. People want a Samsung Galaxy S 4 or an HTC One for beautiful and powerful hardware, but a subset of potential buyers have no desire to put up with Touchwiz UX or Sense UI to enjoy those benefits. Google Play phones sought to fix that but being US-only and expensive is a hinderance. Here's Oppo's solution:
OPPO believes in having the freedom to run the operating system of your choice to get the experience you want from your R819. Use the original ROM, or install OPPO's Color ROM, which will soon be available, for a completely fresh take on Android that was developed with OPPO fans and is frequently updated. R819 can also run Stock Android, the Android experience as Google intended, for a fast, smooth user experience with familiar Google apps.
Oppo's method is far more sensible. The R819 doesn't keep up with the elite Android devices on specs, but the model for how the phone treats software is ideal. Some customers may love the Color ROM and find the changes made irresistible, but others may feel the 1GB of RAM would be better served running stock Android. Rather than make customers spend more money to get a Google Play edition, Oppo will let them press a few buttons and get their desired software. This is something Samsung, HTC, and the like should offer customers. There are probably few technical hurdles based on Oppo's actions and what we've seen from Modaco Switch on the HTC One. Following the R819 model would free companies from having to sell a standard phone, a developer edition, and then a Google Play Edition. Sell one phone to one person and then let that person decide what software it should run.
The stranglehold that carriers have on the U.S. market will probably make this just a pipe dream. AT&T has no reason to give customers more choice. Verizon has not been very friendly to its Nexus users. There's no incentive for phone makers to follow Oppo's lead because carriers would probably try to cripple their efforts. That doesn't mean someone shouldn't try. Even if the efforts proved fruitless in the U.S., try it elsewhere in the world and see if there's demand. One company in China shouldn't be the only one smart enough to recognize that people might actually like being able to personalize the software just as much as they like to personalize the hardware.source: Oppo, via: Kurleigh Martin
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.