Dear Archos

Posted on October 18, 2011

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Dear Archos,

I am a fan of your tablets.

I bought the Archos 7 Home Tablet and the Archos 32 and Archos 101 tablet as I needed them for my experiments. I will skip the G9 Archos 80 – 2×1000 as I want the G9 Archos 80 – 2×1500.

Increasing presence

I see your tablets pop up in positive reviews and in deals with phone companies next to the RIM tablet and the Samsung and Asus tablets. And I am very happy you finally seemed to have moved to higher resolution screens with (according to the reviews) a proper viewing angles.

(Awesome) Value for money

Your tablets deliver good (and almost awesome) value for money. I pay for what I get and – except for the crappy screens in the older series – there are no hidden issues. I recommend other people to buy Archos because I believe what you do- and deliver is not some slapped-together me-too product.

End of 2009

End of 2009 you were one of the few tablet producers with prices that made sense. For 200 or 300 euro I could buy a tablet that did what it needed to do and using the XDAdevelopers site I could find hacks for the Android Market that made it into a full product.

Sweex/Yarvik

Since then a lot has changed. This year Sweex suddenly appeared (in the Dutch market) with the below 110 euro ARM 11 Yarvik series. And the top-range of tablets have dropped in price to levels of 399 euro and less. You yourself launched the Arnova brand for the lower end of the market to – as I call it – sell last years technology for a good and very competative price. Basically in the same line and range as Yarvik.

For your information: I bought the Yarvik for research purposes. It is a decent product for the price it is sold for (88 euro on discount at “Computerland”).

Clouded product communication

But something else happened with your product communication: it became more clouded.

When I look on your site and especially when I walk into a shop it is unclear where your tablets stand now. How do you differentiate from other tablets? How do you differentiate between your own products? Why is the online pricing of your Arnova 10 with 199 euro so close to your Archos 101 (249 euro in your shop and 199 euro at Computerland) ? What are the real differences between the two 10 inch tablets? And why – with missing specs for the CPU on the Arnova (in the physical shop stated to have 600 MHz and sold for 119 euro instead of the advertised 199 on the Arnova site) – is it so difficult to find out what makes them different to begin with?

[Edit: October 22, 2011] I added some screenshots to the bottom of this page to illustrate this confusion.

Is Arnova itself a smart choice when it seems to lie so close to your Archos brand? Or is it just that the prices online need to be updated?

More choice, but unclear communication

I can buy an 7 inch Archos/Arnova Tablet with a 600, 800 (the old G8 HT) and 1000 MHz CPU (the latest G8 HT). Internal memory might range from 128 to 256 MB and maybe goes up to 512 MB but – specifically on your site – nothing clarifies that to me.

An overview on the current product/price strategy

Right now the Archos/Arnova 7 inch series is mostly competing with itself. I list:

  1. The 99 euro 600 MHz (?) Resistive Touch Arnova 7 inch tablet
  2. The 129 euro 800 MHz (?) Resistive Touch Archos 7 HT
  3. The 135 euro 800 MHz Capacitive Touch Archos 7C
  4. The 239 euro 1000 MHz Capacative Touch Archos 7 Internet Tablet
Then coming up are:
  1. The (unknown price) Arnova 7 G2 with multi touch screen and 1GHz processor
  2. The (unknown price) Arnova 7C G2 with multi touch screen and “Qualcomm MSM7227” which appears to be a 600 MHz Cortex A8? Or A6?

That is 6 tablets, excluding all the variants related to internal storage (8 GB, 16 GB or 250 GB due to internal HDD).

Why?

All – including the new Arnova G2 tablets – sport the same or similar 800 x 480 pixel display. So in the end, even when the tablet is “faster”, the user experience is still not optimal as the resolution and viewing angle of these screens are really and probably still awful, giving it a “cheap” imago.

None of this makes sense.

Especially when I can buy a Yarvik 7 inch tablet with a 1GHz(!) processor and similar screen for only 88(!) euro.

Some thoughts on an alternate pricing strategy

Here some of my thoughts on the specs and pricing:

  1. Make a clear distinction between your two brands – Why two brands with similar products within a similar price region? Your low budget Archos tablets “compete” with the Arnova tablet without really adding anything more.
  2. Offer a clear 7 inch choice to your customers – For instance:
    1. This season 99 euro Arnova 7 inch tablet – with 800 x 480 display and the best processor you can offer for that price today
    2. Last season 88 euro Arnova 7 inch tablet – Running the production line on those machines for maybe 6 months more. It is good to phase out a product. Especially when your consumers can get a good product for a very good price.
    3. This season 210 euro Archos 7 inch tablet – With the best 1024 x 600 display you can buy. Being the most top of the bill 7 inch tablet you can deliver for that price
    4. This season 240 euro Archos 8 inch tablet – With 1024 x 768 display and kick-ass processor
    5. Last season 159 euro Archos 7 inch tablet – Running last seasons processor and screen you can find in that budget range
  3. Drop all “in between” variations – Tablets like the 7C, 7 HT and 7 Internet Tablet only cloud your product line. At this moment, I (the consumer) do not want choice, I (the consumer) want a clear offer to make sense out of all different offers and brands there are already.
  4. Keep the choice for storage – The relationship price / storage capacity is clear enough, so nothing wrong with that.
  5. Isolate and clearly position “special editions” – Your 250 GB HDD tablet is cute, but it does not really stand out. What do I do with 250 GB? Why would I buy it? Who is your target audience? “People who use it for internet”? Or people who use it to play movies?
  6. WTF: 239 euro AND 800 x 600 pixels? I recommend not to buy – What were you thinking? I would recommend anyone and everybody NOT to buy the 239 Archos 7 Internet Tablet as the screen is still a – at that price – worthless 800 x 480 screen.
  7. Arnova/Archos? What/why? – Why compete with your own brand? Why cannibalize your own market? What does this add? How do these brands differentiate? Make clear to me as a costumer what each brand represents. And execute that vision.

Less is more. Simpler is better. Especially with all other tablets people can choose from as well.

Sales people in shops seem not to “get” you

Sweex, with the Yarvik outsells you, if I can believe the “Computerland” shop (The Netherlands) sales rep. I spoke with. The tablet clearly has less to offer on all accounts except the screen, but the price beats you. And honestly, I did not get the vibe that the sales-people in the shops “get” what you offer more in the mid-range.

People go for simple choices

You seem to assume people recognize your brand and are well informed beforehand. You seem to assume people will take effort to research your products, read the reviews and have used it before they buy or sell it. In 99% of all cases they are and do not.

We feel. We compare on shallow levels, assumptions that do not hold in reality and incomplete data and then we buy. Our decisions are based on what we see and what we hear, yesterday and right there right then. In general we do not research. We simply go to a shop with a specific budget in mind, to buy “a tablet” for “a specific price”.

We go for – what at that point seems to be – a clear and simple choice, which is either/or based on:

  1. Price – What we pay for what they think they will get
  2. Trust based on familiarity – A familiar brand is automatically trusted more than some unknown brand
  3. Advice – At the end, the advice of a shop-sales person is an important factor. If the sales person says: I would either go forYarvok or Asus while Archos is on display, something is wrong in your communication.

And so instead of an Archos, people might buy a Yarvik or an Asus tablet as the brandname is more known, the marketing and the buzz much louder (in the case of Asus, Motorola, Acer, Samsung) and/or the price much more competitive (in the case of Yarvik).

I love you

I trust your brand. I want to buy your shares on the stock market. I want your brand to kick ass in sales and presence on the mid-price range. As I believe that – as said before – you create good products and you deserve to rule in that region.

What I think is important to communicate (more clearly)

When I step back and look at the factors, I think the following matters to me as a customer:

  1. Speed – CPU and GPU. Does it carry a 600 MHz, 800MHz, 1000 MHz or 1500 MHz processor? Is it an Cortex A8 or Cortex A9/ Is it single-core or dual core?
  2. Generation – What is more? What is newer? Luckally you now mention “G9” on your G9 products.
  3. Memory – Why is it so hard to find out how much RAM your tablets have? It is one of the more important factors for speed and user experience. And for Flash. More is better.
  4. Design – Does it stand out, does it appeal to me? To be honest: your G8 tablets are not really awesome. The G9 series seems to be an improvement. But you can do better. Release a new series next year that really looks 2012 instead of what might have been cool around 1998.

Suggestions to make your product stand out more

Right now your tablets are almost invisible. They do not stand out. Their (this counts for the G8 and Arnova series) design is not overwhelmingly awesome or different.

When looking at this, why not simply do something like this:

  1. Arnova 70 G2 – 1×600 HT – Stating that it is the 6th generation 600 MHz single core Archos 7 inch tablet
  2. Archos 70 G9 – 2×1000 HT – Stating it is the 9th generation, 7 inch, dual core 1 GHz processor
  3. 1200 x 800 pixels / 256MB RAM / 4 GB internal storage / 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixes) true HDMI out – Add a sticker in one of the corners of the screen (handy for display models) stating what the screen resolution, RAM and internal storage is. Are you outputting true HDMI? Or just a blown up version of the 600 x 480 pixels you run on the screen?

Make changes that promote the strong points of your tablets and sales people in the store will notice.

The people buying thousands of your tablets for sales in shops AND the people on the floor will be able to compare your tablets and your brand to the Yarvik tablets and other systems and provide better feedback to the client. People who have access to all versions in a specific range (7 inch, 8 inch, 10 inch) can make a simple price/performance/possibilities decision.

Change the casing-design

Like stated before, I think your design of the outside is outdated. Write out a competition. Offer eternal fame, the newest generation Archos tablet (in that design) and a financial reward of 1000 euro for the one that wins. Approach some awesome product designers and pay them for conceptual designs which you will evaluate. Make your product look like an awesome mid-price tablet that is smart, looks cool and holds properly when you work with it. Halfway 2012 you would be able to launch a new tablet with a new awesome look.

Make clear where you stand compared to other Tablets

I do not read your PR to the buying departments of big parties like the big chian that MediaWorld is part of. Probably you communicate something similar as on your site.

Communicate how your tablets compare to the leading brands (a 300 euro tablet which is almost as fast as/faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab II, can be connected to a generic keyboard, LCD screen, mouse and your computer via two generic USB ports and a mini (true?) HDMI out port) in the coutries where local or European law allows you.

Add prints to reviews of independent sites everyone knows so people can read how your tablets compare. Emphasize the parts where you are almost as good – or better – than your competitors.

Better communication means more sales

In your case, better communication means more sales. Your prices are very OK (although the general price drops caused by the dump of the HP WebOS tablet has made that driver less distinct) but what you lack is the support on the shop floor.

Make your tablets the darlings of the mid-range tablets. You deserve to be just that.

Thank you for reading.

Peter

Screenshots and additional info of confusing brand communication

The Yarvik 211, a 7 inch Resistive Touch ARM11 1GHz tablet

The Yarvik 211. Lower in price (due to discount) than the Arnova 7.

ARM11, 1GHz, 256 MB RAM, 3 hour battery life. Is it faster/better/worse than the Arnova 7?

Arnova 7. Apparently with 600 MHz Cortex A8 processor and 256 MB RAM

The Arnova 7. 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 as far as I can find. RAM? I assume 256 MB. The tech specs on the Arnova site tell me nothing.

Hardly any info on the hardware. RAM? CPU clock speed?

How do I know this is better than the Yarvik? Is it? Or not? And if not: why not release something that is?

The Archos 7 Home Tablet v2. RAM? Processor?

The Archos 7 HT V2 is probably a Cortex A8, 800 MHz machine. Again, no info on the Archos site.

The Touch screen is Resistive.

 

The Archos 7C

For only 6 euros more we suddenly have the Archos 7C. This one sports a Cortex A8, 800 MHz. The Touch screen is Capacitive.

What is the difference apart from the Capacitive screen? Even the stock image is the same.

Archos 7 Internet Tablet

The question is: why not drop these budget tablets from the Archos brand and move them underneath the Arnova umbrella?

 

 

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