It's okay, and entirely expected, to be frustrated by cumbersome phone launches — but some perspective on what's happening can be helpful.
Launching a smartphone is difficult. Even if you think you understand how difficult it is, it's far more difficult still. When you're a small company you have a certain set of problems, usually limited by money and scale of distribution; but if you're big, you have an exponentially larger customer base to serve and the issues associated with the momentum of a huge company.
In the past couple of weeks we've seen a range of issues come front and center before consumers. On one hand, we have the Note 7 — it hit the market swiftly with carrier and retailer support, but had a critical battery flaw that required weeks of backtracking and recalls. Then we have Moto and Sony, which both just launched unlocked phones in the U.S. for what most are calling "too high" $699 prices — bonus round of fail is Moto is launching unlocked nearly four months later than its Verizon Droid Editions (which themselves launched over a month after announce). And finally we have the LG V20, which was unveiled three weeks ago now and we've yet to see even a peep of pricing, availability or pre-orders from the U.S. carriers — and no indication whatsover that it's coming to Europe.
When launching a phone, stumbles are almost inevitable.
The point here is that no matter how big or small the company is, the process of creating and launching a phone while hitting every last point to a T is near impossible. And even when you think you've really nailed it, something happens in the open market that can torpedo the plans. There are so many moving parts, whether it's manufacturing, distribution, carrier partnerships, pricing quibbles with the accounting department or a problem with a supplier. Something inevitably has to give, and there are compromises made throughout the process.
We hold these companies to extremely high standards, and rightfully so — they're asking for a lot of our money, loyalty and patience when launching new products. But if we take a minute to consider just how many balls are up in the air at any given time for a phone launch, it can help us understand what's happening while we're frustrated that our next phone costs $700, is launching two months late and is missing a key feature.
Now, a few other thoughts on other things:
- On my morning Alaska Airlines flight, we received a specific announcement from the head flight attendants that Note 7s should be turned off and unplugged for the duration of the flight. Seems like a common refrain, based on my Twitter feed over the past week.
- I now have a new Note 7 with a fresh battery and its associated green battery icon. Everything seems normal.
- The Note 7 is on the back burner for now, though, as I have an LG V20 to spend more time with (it's pre-production and not review-ready, but I'm excited nonetheless). It's bigger than I remember it being; much more imposing than the Note 7.
- I'm already loving the wide-angle rear camera on the V20, though. The build is dramatically nicer than the LG G5 as well.
- Also been using a pair of Samsung Gear IconX earbuds (those totally wireless ones). Russell Holly's handling our review, but I'll contribute some thoughts also. They're a great tech demo, and are clearly positioned for exercise — but they're pretty bad for daily listening headphones.
- I love that when I travel internationally I don't even have to think about connectivity. T-Mobile and Project Fi have me covered.
This Editor's Desk is nicely timed, as I'm going to have a little bit of a vacation. Enjoy whatever your local equivalent of a beach and a fruity drink is, and have a great week.