Android Devices Show Resilience Through Rapid Adaptation
Custom Android tablets are helping people push through the challenges of the Covid era. New use cases and growth in existing niches have driven innovation and demand for Android hardware.
When Covid arrived in Q1 2020 many Android manufacturing companies quickly reacted with a pessimistic outlook on business prospects for the year ahead. Key component manufacturers decreased their annual production forecasts, lowering the quantity of components produced for the whole year. Agile Chinese tablet manufacturers responded drastically. Many factories transformed their production lines to make masks, gowns, and other PPE. Engineering companies shifted attention from Android PCB design to designing digital thermometers. From one month to the next, customers went from getting price lists for tablets to price lists for medical devices and PPE from the same companies.
Covid didn’t kill economies. It halted industries. Travel, restaurants, cinemas, and many other industries have been decimated by Covid. Other industries ignited. Online education, remote working, and ecommerce/logistics, are examples of industries undergoing a renaissance with heightened user demand and investments. Many workers from the hard hit industries lost their jobs. With less disposable income people have less money to replace old phones or tablets. These were the people that industry executives thought about when reducing forecasts for component production.
What was overlooked was that if people couldn’t congregate in offices and schools then they’d need to work remotely. This created a boom in sales for Android tablets and other devices used to work or study from home.
Android’s system architecture makes it relatively easy to add different peripheral electronics to the core platform. Innovators can also quickly build apps for a wide range of use cases.
The combination of fast hardware and software development are what make Android an ideal platform for quickly adapting as the world and technology evolve.
Android products have become more than a mobile phone or tablet for the consumer market, where several global brands sell fairly similar products. The Android manufacturing ecosystem in Shenzhen quickly responds to opportunities with hardware for serious business, health, and education applications at speeds that weren’t possible until recent years.
Examples of Android Devices that Grew as a Result of the Pandemic
Before the pandemic started there were a few custom Android devices with access control. Once temperature testing started becoming a part of access control, temperature sensors were added to the product. Now, instead of a person taking other peoples’ temperatures at entry points for office buildings, malls, or supermarkets, a tablet does this, and much more, automatically. It takes peoples’ temperatures, assigns the temperature to a specific person, and records that information instantly for future reference as a pandemic control measure (while this raises privacy concerns that is another topic for another article).
Several different companies started making their own version of this product with little twists in design or components. Because of how many companies made their own version of this product it may not be necessary to custom make anymore since many options are available. Some of these tablets are built into a self driving robot device that approaches people for use in hospitals and restaurants.
From elementary school to colleges, remote education was forced upon students around the world. With so many students studying from home the global demand for tablets tailored to serve them exploded. While the electronics don’t vary much (or at all) from standard tablets, specialized apps and casing designs differentiate educational tablets. The huge demand for educational tablets overcompensated for the people with reduced discretionary spending and drove up component prices across the whole industry. The price increases were also a direct result of Huawei hoarding parts due to trade restrictions and reduction in production forecasts from component manufacturers, as mentioned above.
So Many Use Cases. So Many Android Custom Solutions.
Covid has brought to light how the Android platform allows for diverse and fast development of new products. Hopefully demand for pandemic related products will go down soon. Whenever that happens there will be new opportunities calling on engineers to adapt Android in new ways. If you want to bring a unique Android product to life, Hatch can help. We’re always happy to talk with entrepreneurs and engineers about your project.