CREO: The Indian Startup That is Promising a New Update Every Month
The state of Android updates has been an often criticized talking point. The picture has been grim when it comes to update adoption, with Android 6.0 Marshmallow making its way to just about 2.3% of all devices. Even the one and half year old Lollipop is on 36% of all Android devices as of March 7th 2016, and KitKat continues to be on around 34% of all devices. Quick updates to the latest Android version still continues to be a dream for the majority of Android consumers.
In situations like these, it comes off as no surprise that someone has understood the importance of updates to the system, and decided to make a smartphone centered around this as their main marketing pitch. No, we’re not talking about the Nexus program, albeit that is quite literally their major selling point.
We are talking about Indian Startup CREO and their soon-to-be-announced smartphone, the Mark 1.
CREO, formerly known as Mango Man Consumers Electronics, jumped onto the Indian scene with their product, Teewe. Teewe is an HDMI based media-streaming device, much like a slightly cheaper version of Google Chromecast. With the success of Teewe, CREO managed to raise $3 Million in funding in order to produce smartphones and develop a proprietary software OS along with it.
This is where their flagship, Mark 1, comes into the picture. While the exact specifications of the device is unknown at this stage, what piqued our curiosity the most was its marketing pitch, which goes along the lines of:
A New Phone, Every Month
We reached out to CREO to better clarify the Mark 1’s selling point. What do they mean exactly when they say “A new phone every month”?
“By #ANewPhoneEveryMonth, we mean that your phone is going to feel like new, each month, every month. Though hardware is a crucial component of the phone, the software is where the true strength lies. Unfortunately, most Android phones have pretty much the same features, except for the difference in skins and colors. That is what we want to change. We want to put features out every month that improve the user’s experience and offer powerful functionality to the user. With respect to features, we will be improving on and building app discovery, security, and calling features, amongst many others.”
Thankfully, the company did not quite literally mean “a new phone every month”. The pitch is a metaphor for starting afresh every month. Several phones and OEM skins, especially in the lower end of the market, experience slowdown after a few months of usage even though they may have started off as competitive devices in the beginning. CREO believes this slowdown is caused by OEM negligence and the lack of updates. The company has taken upon itself to build its own fork of Android and the hardware to come along with it, putting itself up in competition to the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi in the Indian market.
“With our OS, we’ll send to our users super relevant updates that’ll keep Mark 1 running as just new. And not just that, we’ll also ship a big new feature with every update. These updates will be an industry-first update system, driven by the ideas and suggestions given by Mark 1’s community of users.”
The Mark 1 sounds eerily similar to a Nexus device, what with its promise of one update every month. There is one key differentiating factor here: the device will run on CREO’s Android fork, called Fuel OS. Instead of taking a minimalistic Android approach, the Mark 1 will take a feature-rich approach to Android. This makes their promise of delivering one update every month all the more unbelievable. Could this be for real?
We inquired about the base Android version that the Mark 1 will be releasing with. Afterall, the device promises “super relevant updates”, so assuming the latest version of Android on it would not be far-fetched.
“CREO Mark 1 will launch on our own OS based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 but will have all the latest features of Android. We will also be upgrading to the latest versions of Android. We believe users upgrade to the newer versions because it offers them something new; a new feature, a new experience. And we want to do that very regularly with an update every month. And as we go along, you will see in the days to come that some of the features built are really out of this world and not in any other Android device.”
Alas, the CREO Mark 1 will launch with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. This is very disappointing for a device that claims to be on top of the update game. CREO’s justification for not going with Android 6.0 Marshmallow is that they will backport all of the features and experiences that users usually upgrade for.
There were mentions of a community of users driving the changes that the Mark 1 will be known for. We inquired for some more information on how exactly will this “community” contribute to the Mark 1 experience. Will there be a framework for community involvement wherein the community would create features and functionalities and see them get accepted in the OS, much like how popular custom ROM’s work?
“We’re going to be more community development oriented than anything else right now. Today, the way most OS’s work is that mainly the contribution comes from your own team of engineers and developers. However, our promise of #ANewPhoneEveryMonth stems from the very premise of a community-inclusive update system that takes feedback and suggestions from users to build new features every month. These users come from every walk of life and they all have really cool feature ideas. Moreover, we plan to credit every feature with the people who suggested it and made it happen. That’s how we’ll build on our features each month that are centered around the user herself.”
CREO shared with us some screenshots of the feedback and appreciation mechanism, also giving us a glimpse into how Fuel OS looks like:
While CREO’s claims may not have us convinced, we are certainly curious to see what they bring to the table. A new update every month is a tall claim to make, so tall that none outside of Nexus and Android One dare venture into this territory. This is especially true for India, where Indian and Chinese low cost devices flood the market with their razor thin profit margins and non-existent updates. On a different note, Xiaomi also follows along a similar model with frequent updates to MIUI which are separate from the Android version updates, so will this be the same model that CREO would be following?
A manufacturer promising to focus on updates is something worth noticing for us. Many have promised, only a few deliver. Which group will CREO and the Mark 1 be a part of? Only time, and their first smartphone, will tell.
What are your thoughts on the CREO Mark 1, and their update philosophy? Will you purchase an update focused device even if these updates do not corroborate with Android version updates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!