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40% of Android devices are returned… well, sort of, maybe

There’s a wee bit of a storm kicking off over at TechCrunch today because of comments from a source. First the introduction:

It’s generally accepted that, on the aggregate, Android device sales will far outpace iOS sales year after year. However, there’s a dirty little secret about Android devices that most manufacturers are facing the return rate on some Android devices is between 30 and 40 percent, in comparison to the iPhone 4′s 1.7% return rate as of Antennagate in 2010.

:: snip ::

Right, and now the offending sentence:

However, on the ground, many return rates are approaching 40% said a person familiar with handset sales for multiple manufacturers.

via Android’s Dirty Secret: Shipping Numbers Are Strong But Returns Are 30-40% | TechCrunch.

Ooof. No wonder folk are going nuts — especially the burgeoning Android fan club.

I can see their point. John’s source is a little bit vague. I’d have been far more comfortable if he’d explained that the source was a high level executive working at a tier-1 US operator in the terminals division.

From what people tell me in Europe, Android return rates are slightly higher than feature phones but on par with other smartphones.

If the rate was anywhere near 30-40%, I can tell you unequivocally, there is no way operators would tolerate them in the channel. 5% return rate is seriously annoying. 20% return rate is a dramatic failure. 50% return means a whole department should be fired.

In fairness to John, he did use the word ‘some’ — as in ‘some Android devices’. I have no doubt that some Android phones, especially the first generation from some mid-tier manufacturers, were utterly rubbish. But all of the Android platform? No, I don’t think so.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

2 replies on “40% of Android devices are returned… well, sort of, maybe”

Exactly – hardly any manufacturer or distributor would settle a profitable business case on 30-40% return rate on smartphone. What gross margin would it require to bypass devastation of the brand? 

This really looks like some rabble rousing nonsense cooked up over some beers by someone with an Android grudge. There are a remarkable number of these people.

Yes. There are some shockingly poor experiences smeared on top of the OS in the name of differentiation by the manufacturers. Operators play a love/hate game with google, customising many of the devices in their own misguided attempts to monetize customers. Very little of this activity improves the user experience…
But 30-40% return rates. Really. If that’s true, then these people account for at least half of new iPhone buyers! I remember when TechCrunch were bastions of proper tech journalism. This smacks of commenter baiting of the worst sort.

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