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Considering to Outsource the Development of Your Custom Android Device? Know What to Look for!

Read about the pluses and minuses of outsourcing, including how to effectively oversee the development process of your custom Android device.

Custom Android Device

Companies that want to make custom Android devices usually have in-house expertise making software.  Unique software is where the core value of their product comes from, however it requires designing the right hardware to fully deliver this value.

Your company excels in software/app development, understands your target market, and knows how to sell.  You know that achieving the best results comes from dedicating internal resources to the most value-generating parts of your business.  Hardware, while crucial, is a means to deliver the value derived from software.  Hardware development is difficult to do well.  Little oversights turn into big problems.  Therefore it makes sense for software focused companies to outsource hardware development to a team that’s just as focused on hardware as they are on software.

This article discusses themes to consider when outsourcing your custom Android device’s development.

Read also Considerations when starting a Custom Android Development

Strong relationships improve results

Quality hardware comes from strong relationships between companies.  Positive relationships build healthy working conditions and better results.  When key staff develop strong personal relationships communication becomes easier.  Mutual understanding creates efficiencies that help projects go more smoothly.  Easy and efficient communication with outsourced partners makes clients feel more in control and confident about their project.

Not only does work output improve as companies gain experience working together, but developing personal relationships adds meaning to a project.  Independent companies start their relationship based on economic interests and grow that into a bond based on people caring for each other.  When considering an outsourcing partner it’s important to be able to envision the possibility of a long term relationship with the people you’ll be working with.

Managing your outsourced Android device’s development process

Some of Hatch’s clients get deeply involved in the hardware development process.  This exposes them to problems that happen, which are normal during development, and usually not reasons for concern.  It’s important for Hatch’s clients to keep an open mind and sense of trust in their outsourced partner.  At the same time, it’s important that Hatch works transparently with the client to communicate details behind decisions that need to be made.  That way the client has a clear understanding about the nature of issues and the development partner knows what matters most to the client.

A partner like Hatch leverages a broad network of experienced supply chain partners to deliver the best results. (In this article Hatch is used as an example. The principles are general.)  Hatch’s partners are experts in each detail of a product.  Whether it’s the camera supplier, screen supplier, or any other of the component suppliers.   Hatch involves the client (as much as they want) in the minute details of their product development.  This way the client has knowledge of what’s happening and feels comfortable with the process.

Hatch knows which technical details to consider at the beginning of a project and how one decision may affect another.  Once the decisions are made Hatch integrates those details into the final product plan.  By asking our client forward looking questions at an early stage, Hatch is able to work more efficiently with supply chain partners.  Selecting partners with the right expertise and approach to partnership increases the chance of success for your project.

Custom Android Device Supplier vs Commodity Android Device Supplier

For custom Android hardware, working with a partner in Shenzhen has clear advantages.  Shenzhen is the global center for developing technology hardware.  Android is no exception. Companies in the same industry in close physical proximity to each other develop synergies.  They learn from each other by discussing technical and business trends which affect the industry.  This kind of relationship building takes time, especially in China where trust is built over time. Sending over an engineer from overseas to monitor one project cannot replicate this value.

For a niche custom Android project, the process of designing the product involves clearly understanding exactly what a client needs.  Each client and each project have different requirements.  Standardized processes, to identify unique requirements, and clear communication extract key information needed to prepare for a custom development.  With that clear understanding, Hatch ensures the specific requirements of the project are communicated to all members of the supply chain in a way that everyone understands and can act on.

The typical commodity Android hardware manufacturer receives orders for mass market products which have already been developed.  Product development decisions are based around popular mass market demands and cost saving.  Decisions about the product are made by product engineers trained to create high volume products, not designing around a client’s unique needs.  This approach works well for commodity products, but not in the custom world.

Requirements for an unusual use case are often difficult for commodity product engineers to understand without very clear direction.  Hatch overcomes this challenge regularly by speaking to engineers in terms that they understand.  This way their designs deliver the results clients are looking for.

For valid reasons, commodity product suppliers limit customization options of their products.  These companies are designed to manufacture the same product over and over.  Making changes to that product for one client would affect all the other clients buying that product.  This would hurt sales.  Since commodity product orders are fairly streamlined the person interfacing with clients is often inexperienced in custom product projects.  When attempting to manage a custom project their inexperience leads to miscommunication and delays.  Eventually, the supplier’s management becomes frustrated by the delays and becomes less interested in the project.

Companies that want a custom Android product are well served to use a partner focused on making custom products.  This ensures their interests are represented throughout the process and results are delivered in the quickest and safest manner possible.

Noteworthy benefits of outsourcing:

  • New hardware development comes with risk. If your business’s value comes from something other than hardware then focus on your core capabilities while your hardware development partner focuses on theirs.
  • Using the right hardware partner saves time, money, and endless headaches. It’s the same reason people hire a contractor instead of building their own house.
  • Outsourcing hardware to experts creates possibilities to make a better product.

If the points outlined in this article resonate with your business’s needs these concepts should increase the chances of making your project a success.

Yours truly, Ben Dolgin-Gardner, Hatch founder and Manufacturing Solution Expert

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Expert insights from the frontline of Android manufacturing.