So Android app developers are not happy with sales of their apps on this iPhone-competitor platform. Not enough buyers. No exposure for the apps. Fractured marketplace. Highly variable hardware. Proprietary carrier issues.
This is PRECISELY what Apple side-stepped in creating the iPhone and the App Store. All iPhones — including the iPod Touch — use the same store, the same software, the same screens (for now). There’s a good set of tools for discovery of apps and Apple makes an effort to promote new things, popular things and so on. Users — and there are millions of them in the U.S. alone — evangelize apps to one another (I know: I’ve done it repeatedly and just did it yesterday).
The reason Apple took the MP3 player market by storm was not the device, no matter how awesome iPods were and are. It was the integrated device+store+PC experience. Simple, clean, reliable, fun — works like you’d expect it to (intuitively). They’ve repeated their success with the iPhone OS and the resulting App universe that’s growing. It’s a CLOSED PLATFORM and it’s working BECAUSE it’s a closed platform.
Bitch all you want about the (admittedly bad) App approval process, but there’s still no better mobile app or mobile phone system with which to associate your brand.
Android is a remarkable achievement and I expect to see a lot of great stuff on the platform in the years to come. But it’s the Linux of the mobile device world: highly capable, but too fractured and user-hostile and taken over by ruthless corporations or market-clueless techies to be broadly enjoyed by a majority of users. It’s too HARD. It’s not intuitive across the board.
Android app developers might make a killing later with vertically-integrated apps tailored to specific industries. Or maybe not — it didn’t save the Pocket PC / Windows Mobile world. It didn’t even save the Palm Treo, a killer device in its day. And for every vertical app on Android, you can replicate it on the iPhone pretty easily.
Really, I struggle to see an Android advantage that can consistently and broadly beat the “closed” app platform on the iPhone OS. And part of that is because Android, despite it’s open source roots, is still yet another closed platform. Closed hardware. Closed carrier relationship.
The Android’s promise cannot take off until it becomes the Windows of the mobile device world. That might happen. But not anytime soon.
Meanwhile, app developers: stick to the iPhone and sweat it out with the rest of the beaten masses trying to get apps through the iTunes Store. There’s more money and more recognition for a job well done.