It would seem that the word “Android” pops up everywhere nowadays. It’s the in word when it comes to anything mobile related, a true challenger to the iPhone throne as king of the smartphone heap, so it is perhaps a little surprising that its creator, Google, seems to have been unwittingly holding it back from even greater glory.
Two years ago Android was but a pipe dream on the mobile horizon, with most people writing it off as simply another attempt by a big company to cash in on the burgeoning growth of the smartphone market, with little chance of it gaining much traction.
In those two short years, however, Google’s Android platform has gained traction and then some, performing a feat nobody really thought possible; taking on and in some cases actually overtaking the phenomenon that is Apple’s iPhone.
It has certainly not been an easy road for Google’s OS, however and there are still numerous issues like platform fragmentation -where phone manufacturers get sloppy and don’t keep their phones up to date with the latest versions of Android – for example. To be fair, Google seems to come out with a new version of the operating system every few weeks, much to the chagrain of developers and handset makers alike.
While platform fragmentation has been catching all the headlines, however, what is really holding Android back is the Android Marketplace.
More after the break.
Sure, the Android Marketplace sports thousands of new apps being added daily and has seen phenomenal growth, but Google’s app platform faces a significant problem, namely the lack of international support for Google checkout, an important part of the app submitting process.
Of course we’re all aware by now of the nonsense rules and regulations imposed by Apple on its iPhone developers, with apps seemingly rejected simply because the wind is blowing from the East the day it is reviewed for approval. We’re also all aware of just how open and supposedly developer friendly the Android marketplace is, but as it turns out, that’s not entirely an accurate perception.
If you’re a developer living in, say, Australia and you want to submit a paid app to the marketplace? Well, tough luck, because you can’t!
Unless you live in Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, the U.S. or the U.K. – the only countries which actually support Google Checkout to sell applications on Android Market – then you are a developer out of luck. Developers in other countries can only submit their apps as free applications, which certainly doesn’t spur motivation.
Indeed, developers world-over are getting rather fed up with this approach which seems to be either neglecting them or forcing them to either give away their foreign work for free. Many have decided not to bother with Android at all, a great loss for the platform.
While Apple may have its issues, at least the Cupertino firm ensures its developers across the globe can submit their work and set a price for it, which seems more fair to content makers.
This also generally shows in the lack of quality and polish of most Android apps, which generally look horrific in side by side comparisons with their Apple counterparts. This of course is because many developers simply do not want to put in the time if they don’t see a monetary advantage – which is fair enough.
In the case of Australia, Google also saw fit to snub the Android developer community during a five day Google developer event held early this month in Sydney. The conference was utterly devoid of any Android related workshops, which doesn’t say much for Google’s interest down under.
The result of this Google nonchalance is that many developers in Oz and elsewhere are being pushed into Apple’s arms simply because the search engine giant is dragging its feet when it comes to giving developers a chance of being compensated fairly for their hard work.
At the end of the day, Google, you’d do well to heed the mantra: “you get what you pay for.”