A Free, Bad Idea: Make an Android App

Categories: Google Android

If you want an Android app for your business, please talk to me and let me talk you out of it.

Then, after you've been talked out of that (yes, I've thought about the same considerations you have, and no, I don't need to know the specifics about your business and why that somehow makes developing for Android worth it - it will not be worth it), let me talk to you about why developing for iOS is a much better use of time and money.

Listen, I know, the Android versus iOS debate is something of a religious war now. But consider these facts:

On average, iOS-device owners:

  • appreciate quality.

  • expect more out of the apps they use, in terms of expressiveness and features. (This represents an area for opportunity.)

  • stick with iOS long term. Accordingly, they can also stick with your app.

  • look for ways to maximize the value of their investment (through accessories and apps).

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding to make an Android app:

  • Are you a huge, multinational corporation?

  • Do you have massive coiffers of cash to spend on testing your app across between twenty and fifty or more major device and OS version configurations? Not just for device acquisition costs, but for the people time it takes to do the testing and writing situation-specific workarounds?

  • Do you like to be frustrated?

  • Are you unusually lucky?

  • Do you like catering to the least common denominator?

  • Do you like catering to people who resent your being a businessperson?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then maybe making an Android app is a good idea for your business.

There could be reasons to create an Android app for your business. The total number of Android users is very large. But the associated costs and incredible likelihood of minimal or no return on investment make creating one an unadvisable course of action.

Further reading:

Google Android: iPhone’s Only Real Competition (For Now)

Categories: Google Android iPhone Java


T-Mobile debuted the first Google Android phone, the HTC G1, at a press conference today, due out October 13 October 22. It will be available at the iPhone-competitive price of $179 with 2-year contract. On-demand coverage of the event is available here: http://announcement.t-mobileg1.com/

IGN has a brief overview on Android, its history, and its benefits. http://gear.ign.com/articles/899/899748p1.html

One of the most interesting parts of the Android platform is the Android Marketplace (which, unfortunately, is not run by Jawas). Designed to be a more open version of the iPhone App Store, Android applications are written in Java, and the Marketplace is open to any developer interested (Apple limits developer access through a fee/approval process, and screens application submissions, sometimes to the chagrin of said would-be developers).

Gizmodo has a list of Android’s most exciting apps: http://gizmodo.com/5053280/androids-10-most-exciting-apps
and there is a list of Android Developer Challenge winners here: http://code.google.com/android/adc_gallery/

While openness is appealing, the number of possible handset configurations has the potential of being a huge headache. Developing for the idiosyncrasies, screen orientations, hardware inputs, and environment specifications of dozens or perhaps hundreds of devices versus developing for a single standardized platform (in the iPhone) could mean the difference between releasing in a few months and in more than a year. It remains to be seen if a system that does not pre-qualify applications will be a good thing, or if it will just end up as a flea market of crapware.

And here’s a collection of Google Android desktop wallpapers so you can sport your Android love.