Should we be clamoring for better hardware quality?
I've used, and subsequently reviewed, many devices in my time. And one of the most disconcerting feelings about a new device is poor hardware quality. Every device has its design downfall, but when a month of normal use goes by and you've lost your volume rocker, there's definitely a piece of your confidence in that device that goes away with it.
So why aren't companies making quality devices?
Some may say it has a lot to do with how much the company cares. Samsung, for example, will build devices, tout them as being the best thing on the planet, and then will simply leave them alone roughly a month later. Why should they care if your battery cover falls off without warning? It's a discontinued device; it's your problem now.
Others may argue that it's a money making technique. Apple, in particular, has extremely stringent guidelines on what it does and does not fix for its customers. Water damage, shock damage, and smoke damage are among the paid fixes.
But personally, I think it has more to do with arrogance. Let's take RIM, for example. They might not have all of the build quality issues that some other companies have, but they do make the slowest phones on the market. And they're arrogant about it! In fact, just at All Things D, company co-CEO Mike Lazaridis explained that his phones and OS aren't going to get any better until dual-core processors are available. It just so happens that they are.
In manufacturers' defense, there are plenty of rough devices that are ready to take on day-to-day life. But that's their focus, and they're awfully expensive for such a slow experience. Hopefully as components get cheaper and faster, manufacturers will find a way to even the balance out. Right now, however, we're choosing between fragile and tough as a rock.