This Christmas our household got its first Android devices.  They were a couple of off-brand tablets and I have come to hate them.  We bought them because they were cheaper.  In this post I will be looking at this from an average consumer perspective.  What was the experience and how does it affect my view of the platform.

The main issue is the ability to download apps.  This particular tablet did not come with the Google Play Store app.  Instead it came with a link to download the Amazon Store app.  I found this confusing, but lets accept that for a second.  Downloaded the Amazon Store app and logged in.  It allows me to search for apps, but that is where the app stops working.  You tap on an app icon and nothing happens.  You can’t get to the point of purchasing and downloading.

Fine! Let’s try this from another angle.  I went to the Amazon site and searched for the app I wanted.  It said it was available for my registered device.  Purchased it and the site says it will download to my device soon.  That never happened.  I opened the Amazon Store app and reviewed My Apps and it doesn’t show up.

At this point my frustration level is pretty high.  I think most average consumers would have returned the device by now, but being a techie I try another approach.  I searched online to find a way to download the Play Store app directly for Android 4.0.3.  Guess what!  It crashes every time I try to run the app!  It is great that there are so many apps in the Google Play Store, but if I can’t get to them I just bought an expensive browser.

Windows has had inconsistency problems on different hardware vendor devices throughout its history, but Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 address this in the Microsoft ecosystem.  If I go to the store on Windows Phone or Windows 8 apps install without an issue.  Now that doesn’t ensure the quality of the app, but at least you get to find out.  This is also built into the OS so that the experience is the same no matter who the hardware vendor is.

I understand that higher end device vendors are probably better tested, but this is about consistency of an ecosystem.  In the end I think that if Google doesn’t address issues like this with Android platform the lead it has gotten by being cheap will be lost to other platforms such as iOS and Windows 8 out of frustration.  There is no way after this experience I would suggest Android devices to a friend.