Android Apps and Marketplace: The 7 stumbling factors
This post is in continuation of a critic of the Android Apps and Marketplace that had been posted earlier. This post examines the different factors that are stumbling blocks for Android’s Applications and Marketplaces in terms of ease of engagement with developers, Monetization, App Visibility and Innovation.
• User Demographics: The Android user typically is also less likely to buy compared to an iOS user. The iPhone and iPad user is interested in buying content–that’s one of the reasons they bought the device. Therefore the ROI on developing for Android is different than it is for Apple
• Device fragmentation. 56% of Android developers Believe that operating system fragmentation among the various Android devices is increasingly becoming a problem because of the non-uniformity and extra effort that goes behind developing for every individual Android OEM device maker. So, while one one hand, Android being “free” and “Open” makes it attractive for OEM handset manufacturers like Motorola, Samsung and HTC (which probably is what accounted for its wide adoption in such a short time); it also creates several problems for the platform as OEMs alter the uniformity of experience as they try differentiating themselves within the common platform.
• Store fragmentation. Generally developers seem to prefer a unified, single store experience like Apple’s App Store. Android with its multiple OSs is having problems producing a uniform experience across all its OS versions.
• Ease of development. While Apps on Android, as a platform is considered easier to develop for than, BlackBerry or Symbian, iOS outscores Apps development on Android. iOS development is both easier and more stable; it also has a lot less number of devices to test and support compared to Android.
• App visibility. The amount of trash and junk apps in the Android eco-system make the discovery and visibility of apps in the Android eco-system a challenge. iOS with stringent screening and quality checks is able to provide the best apps to the store with adequate indexing which makes the discovery process a breeze.
• Ability to make money. It is singularly hard to believe that Blackberry with its archaic store, actually makes more monies selling apps compared to Android. While Android’s year over year “percentage growth” in app sales was up an impressive 861.5 percent compared to Apple’s 131.9 percent growth, Android’s software revenues actually grew by $91 million over last year, while Apple’s App Store grew by a whopping $1,013 million, more than 11 times as much real growth in terms of revenue dollars. Handset sales by all Android licensees combined were higher than Apple’s in 2010, but that did not result in greater app sales nor even in greater web use by Android users
• Apple’s devices are leading the vanguard of mobile browser innovation and for the HTML5 app developer. A comparative analysis of the iPad 2 and the Android 3.0 powered Motorola Xoom exposes the stark difference in terms of HTML5 adoption. The iPad2 has a top rate, no compromises HTML5 browser while calling Android 3.0 Moto Xoom is not ready even for HTML 4.
Post Script Addendum dated 7th April 2010
Andy Rubin, Google’s mobile chief has justified the fragmentation of the platform as a continuous issue related to the “openness” of the platform.
Rubin has also cleared some air around the “closed nature” of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS for tablets. Google has not “opened” the Honeycomb yet and all work on Honeycomb has been featured only on Moto Xoom. According to Rubin, there are compatibility requirements for Honeycomb which are still being worked out and once those issues have been settled, Honeycomb would be available to OEMs and developers as open source code.