Thursday, February 28, 2008

Developer satisfaction with Android continues to fall

Round 1 of the Android Contest isn't even over yet, and it seems developers already have plenty to gripe about. At first, it was the Android SDK and simulator, which was buggy and didn't include several important features. This forced Google to respond by releasing an updated SDK one month before the contest was to expire and extending the deadline of contest until April 14th. Now more cracks have begun to appear. Developers on the mailing list have been complaining about the lack of web-based submission system to track their entries. Comments ranged from disappointment to disbelief:

"Maybe google have no time for better support. Maybe they have no resources or idea for this at this time. But I work hard and hope, that we and our work will be treated seriously. "

"So... it seems Google is kind of "unprepared" for this contest... I would assume if Android is such a big deal in Google's mobile strategy, they'd be putting mountains of resources in it to
make sure it reaches the maximum potential"

It is pretty incredible for a company, whose business is to create webapps, not to have a web-based submission of their own for contests. Especially one as important as Android. This is raising questions about Google's priorities considering it recently announced a competition for sending robots to the moon, with the total prize money being three times that of the Android prize.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Should Apple sell 3rd party iPhone apps via ITunes

Wired is suggesting that apps for iPhones developed using Apple's official SDK will be sold on iTunes. Just like how iPod touch users can buy the 1.1.3 maps, emails apps from iTunes store. While there is no confirmation yet, if Apple goes ahead, it will position the iPhone app platform as a serious alternative to the Android platform. There are numerous benefits to developers:

1. Apps can make real money and not just pie-in-the sky advertising dollars (which is as low as $0.15 CPM for facebook apps).

2. Apple will create a directory for apps and possibly vet them for quality and trustworthiness. Conversely, this will mean that to succeed any app must be approved by Apple.

3. No stupid apps or app spam because people won't pay real money for them. Instead of contrived metrics like "number of daily active users", iTunes can use the number of paying customers and their average feedback. Smart developers will let users try their apps for free, and the willingness to pay is the best measure of quality.

4. Successful apps will be able to demonstrate their commercial potential and get funding to release on other platforms such as Android or Windows Mobile or J2Me. Android is offering prizes of $20,000 - $100,000 to developers, but winning a prize from a committee of technologists doesn't demonstrate market acceptance.

This could really be a huge development for the mobile industry. Up until now, a few games companies like Jamdat mobile has monopolized the development of games for cellphones, which imo range from the trivial to the infantile. Operators have been unwilling to sign deals with developers without the "right" pedigree and the "right" set of ideas. This is about openness and open markets succeeding where walled gardens and planned economies have failed.

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