HTC has made a number of announcements specific to the US market in the past few days about support and service arrangements. We haven’t reported on them on Ausdroid because they don’t pertain to Australian users — not yet, anyway. Given the number of rumours and news reports around the company at the moment we thought it’d be a good idea to summarise HTC Advantage.
Updates for all
The biggest point of interest is HTC’s commitment to 2 years of software updates. Since many phone contracts last for two years, there’s an element of comfort for the consumer in knowing that their device will see updates.
Take that with a grain of salt, though — the Advantage site is short on specifics like timeframes — relevant since HTC missed its self-imposed 90-day window for getting KitKat onto US Ones, and we haven’t seen any sign of the update for Australian carrier-branded Ones.
This commitment also comes on the heels of some very public backlashes after the company announced in January that it would no longer update the One X – a little over 18 months into its life – and an infographic depicting the software update process.
It’s also worth remembering that HTC – like every other Android OEM – is beholden to chipset manufacturers in the software update proces, as they explained in a Reddit AMA the other day. This is also believed to be one of the reasons Google didn’t update the Galaxy Nexus to KitKat. If HTC is guaranteeing that they can provide software updates for 2 years, it seems possible that they’ve received a guarantee of updated driver support from their suppliers for the same period.
HTC Backup service & extra Google Drive space
HTC Backup itself isn’t unique to the Advantage program, but as it can be set to use Google Drive storage space, the “advantage” is that you get 25-50 GB of extra space on that service for free when you get a new HTC device.
The HTC Backup service ties into the next item, but it’s an already-in-place service that backs up important items from your phone (contacts, personalisation, apps and accounts) to HTC’s servers. You can restore these settings from HTC’s servers if you need to. Importantly though, HTC doesn’t back up Photos or Music. If you’re using a service like Dropbox or Google+ and a streaming music provider then, you’re probably OK with this.
New screens for … some
The next interesting part of the Advantage program is the provision for a free replacement for a cracked screen within 6 months of purchase. You can either get a free prepaid shipping label to send your device back to HTC and get a replacement in 8-10 days, or pay $29 for overnight delivery. It seems that HTC is actually replacing the whole phone with the overnight delivery option, which after 6 months of wear and tear might be a sound investment. If you do a completely new phone, you’ll need to be using HTC Backup to bring your settings down from the cloud and restore your device back to a working state.
I’m a little skeptical as to whether this really provides that much of an Advantage to users given that I tend to treat my phones with kid gloves for the early part of their lives. If you’ve ever broken the screen on your phone you’d appreciate this, as long as it’s within 6 months.
What about Australia?
As we’re wont to ask, “what about us?” – it’s all well and good for HTC to make these announcements, but they are US-centric and they do result in the rest of the world looking on enviously. So many things in the smartphone world are specific to the US, it’d be nice to see this kind of thing done on a global scale. The reality might just be that we here in Australia aren’t as big a market as we think we are.
The company’s ability to make promises regarding software updates probably indicates an agreement of some kind with the major US carriers regarding their update process – this is something that would have to be negotiated on a per-country basis by HTC in order to have this guarantee apply worldwide, but it seems like it’d be worth their time to pursue it in major markets worldwide and not just the US.
It’s also worth remembering that few Android OEMs have excelled at the software update process – perhaps we should be looking at this as a new beginning for HTC’s software update commitments. Maybe the US-centric nature of the guarantee won’t matter — if HTC produces a software update for a flagship device in the US to meet their Advantage guarantee, there’s no reason for them not to release that update worldwide here unless there’s some financial disincentive for doing so.
The back-to-base nature of the screen repair service, and its overnight shipping of new devices is also probably one of the things that makes this part of the Advantage program very specific to the US, where HTC has a larger base of operations and can probably hold more stock to make the entire program work. Were they to bring the Advantage program to Australia, HTC might need to handle the supply chain and shipping / repairs part of it differently or go through third-party partners.
HTC deserves credit for trying to innovate in the post-sales support space, an area which we’ve often found lacking with Android OEMs. They’ll get more credit from us when it comes to Australia. We’ve approached HTC’s Australian arm about the Advantage service and will update accordingly when we have a response.
Would HTC Advantage, or at least some of the guarantees within, coming to the Australian market influence your purchasing decision towards a HTC product? Let us know in the comments.