Android costing carriers $2B a year in service with Windows Phone faring better

We know a few things about about Android: they're ubiquitous, have fragmentation, range from super cheaper to top of the line and now evidently they cost carriers a lot of money in service calls and repairs. Up to $2 billion a year, at least according to a white paper by Wireless Dat Service.

The study looked at over 600,000 support calls to carriers over the last 12 months. The results highlight that 14% of support calls dealing with Android related to hardware repairs whereas Windows Phone 7 came in at 11%. By comparison, BlackBerry was at 5.5% and the iPhone at 7%.

The results are clear: the tighter the grip the OS developer has on the hardware, the more reliable it is. RIM and Apple control their hardware in every which way since they literally design the OS and hardware together. Microsoft certainly has more control with their chassis requirements but ultimately it is up to OEMs like Samsung and HTC to make the device. Google is even more lax with Android, allowing anything and everything to go, hence a little more chaotic.

However, Tim Deluca-Smith, vice president of marketing at WDS does point out that it is because of Android's wild and uninhibited nature that it now commands much of the market, albeit at a price to customers--more hardware failures due to rush to market and less frequent OS updates. On that latter point, the report cites a 2010 study which notes "of 18 Android devices from the US, 10 were at least two major versions behind within their two-year contract period."

Microsoft truly has a middle of the road approach which is giving them more stable hardware and consistent user experience across devices. In addition, major OS updates like Mango seem to be going very well with nearly 50% of current phones already upgraded just five weeks after a slowly expanding rollout.

Perhaps the report will get carriers to reconsider betting everything on Android and look for a more cost-effective and reliable OS like Windows Phone.

Source: WDS (registration req); via Fierce Wireless, After Dawn

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

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  • Dan I'm not sure this is a good result, considering the quantity of Android devices in the field, that only 14% of their support calls resulted in hardware replacements compared to the smaller number of Windows Phone pulling in at 11%?I'm not so sure that it's the hardware failing though, it's possible that support centres don't yet have good scripts for how to fix Windows Phone so they just resort to "yeah send it off for repair".Then again the other factor to consider is we're dealing with generation 1 hardware for WP compared to Android's far later gen hardware, so theoretically OEMs have had more time to identify what not to do with the hardware
  • The survey/study only looked at a limited amount of carriers who are their customers e.g. Vodafone, Orange and Three. So 14% is not of the 140+ Android devices out there versus the 10 or so Windows Phones, but a much lower number.Of course, you could say the same about the iPhone and BlackBerry, no? They have even less diversification in the market.The question is, is 14% high? Well, when dealing in volume, perhaps so. That extra few percentage points seems to results in significant financial difference, but maybe it is just because there are so many Android devices.Mind you, it's not my opinion about Android here but report's authors. Regarding Android:"The report found that the introduction of low-cost hardware, a variety of software customizations and the process for delivering OS updates to consumers were all resulting in operators' retail operations and their return and repairs processes being stretched."
  • Interesting. I had my Evo for about 6 months and never had problems. I gave it to my girlfriend after I bought my Arrive. She had problems and I don't know if it was her or the phone and if it would have happened to me. She got three Evo's in 2 months which were faulty (and refurbished). She was about to go on her fourth until I demanded the 3D for her. I have a GSII along with my Arrive and even though it has a lot of plastic it feels firm. I only wish Sprint would update their Windows Phone. People that have cheap Android phones like Huawei shouldn't complain because... they are cheap. You get what you pay for. I am surprised by the 11% of Microsoft though... expected a lower number. It just may be the OEM's if these numbers are so high.
  • Not sure if the focus of the study included US carriers, but if exclude the DVP fiasco, along with 1.3 vs. 1.4 and memory card issues with the Focus, that 11% would drop significantly.
  • RIM at 5.5%. Thats one thing they have going is their hardware is generally bulletproof.
  • That 5.5% probably came in solely from the click wheel/ball/mouse. lol
  • I for one went through 2 focuses within the first couple months of WP7. The first one bricked itself within the first day.