Google not happy with low Android app purchases

Here's an article ( )that I read on NeoWin and I had an opinion on this, this has been my prediction on Android since the very first time I saw and got hands on it. This might be a very bold statement and I might have to eat my words, but I guess as it stands today, ...

1. Android has multiple versions out in the wild, some devices sold today are still sold with 1.6, some with 2.1 and very few with 2.2. I still recollect when I went shopping for an Android phone, I visited the Telcos first to see what phone can I get off on a plan. that way I can get a phone and not worry about an upfront payment. They had "Android" phones but had no idea about what version it was. I wasn't trained to spot the version from the UI at that time. So I ended up researching and purchasing a Telstra Touch Tablet for about $299, it claimed over 142 hours or so on the box, the battery would die in just under 14 hours even without using the device and yes, it ran 2.1

2. There are too many devices that it's not funny. So after I was not satisfied with this big huge chocolate bar of a phone that ran Android 2.1 from Telstra and died in about 14 hours, I returned it for a full refund. Well, it misled, did not do what it claimed on the box. I needed an android device...after all I wanted to test my apps on some device, I needed to know what Android was after all. I did not want to spend the $500+ on HTC or the kinds, so a trip to DickSmith introduced me to Huawei phones, now nothing wrong with this, after all the Telstra device was also a Huawei S7 branded for Telstra. I icked up an small mini Ideos, this was unlocked and ran 2.2 for about $199 ( I could have alternatively picked up Garmin Nuvi from Optus for the same price but it ran 2.1 ) A developer needs tha latest OS, right?? A phone dealer from All Phones even suggested that I wait a bit and in about a months time Optus would release an Android Tablet that is similar to the Telstra Tablet and will be cheaper than Telstra's offering by about $10-20, and he wasn't talking about the Samsung Galaxy. LG had a few Android offerings with the Optimus range and HTC too.

3. The Android development tools are a disaster. There is no standard IDE and kit that one can use to develop for Android. I love the AppBuilder, a GUI based system build on Scratch. This is cool, since in about a couple of lines of code blocks, you can write a fully functional voice recognizer and a QRbBarcode reader and decoder. However I am not exactly a fan of Java, maybe coz the people that introduced it to me confused the *3ll out of me and ... (that's a different story) I kind of became Java code allergic. So the whole idea of coding in Java and using Eclipse... One can set up IntelliJ with the correct plug-ins, but it doesn't work... it just doesn't work seamlessly. The simulator expects a port number by default, but it sets itself on another and therefore the code cannot install the executable, etc, etc... Too confusing.

4. The Android Market is the little shop of horrors. I signed up for the Android developer account, thought that it would be a good idea to be a developer for the three platforms, iOS, Android and WP7. I created an app for Android and made it 1.6 compliant so that (I presume) 1.6, 2.1 and 2.2 can run it. It got approved and it was on the market place for $0.99, I even set copy protection (what's that??) I could not understand half the things while setting up an entry for the app on the Android store. A few days later I saw that I had to go to Google Merchant and approve a sale to invoice/bill the people that purchased the app, and there were two transactions that mentioned that the transaction had been declined and they buyers got their money back. Great!! Two sales and both of them asked for a refund and I was supposed to invoice them. What the...

5. Searching does not return results. I tried to search for my app on the Android store, I got and still get no results matching my app, but I can see them on the developer's dashboard. I can even see that they are listed in different categories of number of sales. ( I put another version of the same for free )

The entire process, right from the start where I want to set up my development environment to the point where I want to upload my app for sale to downloading my app is horribly painful. If I was to choose between developing for the Android or the iOS, I'd choose iOS, coz once I get over the initial objective-c learning curve, everything else is so simple (bar the few iTunes setup and creating the provisional certificates and using them to sign the apps)

If you ask me what do I think the future holds, well the iOS devices have already proven themselves, I'd rather be seen with an iOS device than a Google device, Android somehow gets associated with Cheap, where as iOS gets associated with classy. I say that by being a convert from being a windows enterprise developer for over 15 years to now owning two iMacs, an eMac, a MBPro 15", a MB, an iPad two iPhone 4's, a iPhone 3, two iPod's and a couple of windows boxes and a couple of windows laptops.

The next thing after Apple iOS will be the Microsoft WP7, I do not own one as yet, but from all the people that I know that have one, it is believed to be the next best device. It shall overtake Android for a simple reason, Microsoft learned from their past, rather than have a jamboree, it is better to have a fixed spec for device makers. So I can buy an LG, Samsung, HTC but all of the WP7 devices will have the same sized screen or an options of either given spec. Apple stood in that precarious position when it introduced the retina display and the iPad, for a developer it meant supporting three different resolutions, not a very good thing. With the devices being 8/16/32 GB, and most of the retina games being 30-50 to 100-500 MB it is just a matter of time before your device is filled up.


Our take on this issue is that if Google continue having crappy devices running their OS, like the Ideos phone I have is a total waste of money, it crawls and is a disaster and has a very small resolution like 320x240 or so.
There are some really cool features in the Android devices that are not publicized very well, like the ability to create a wireless HUB, which is now introduced in the iOS 4.3, so Google must let the customer know what is in there
The Marketplace requires a face lift, currently it is in a state of disaster.
Searches do not return results and there are 3rd party software that help you locate apps or change settings that the OS should have done in the first place.

Windows Phone 7 will take over soon, the only issue is that it is a bit expensive, specially when compared with the iOS device and retina display and iOS being an established benchmark. So if the WP7 is priced a bit lower to fill the void created, it can establish itself in the market. A very good example of perfect pricing is the Microsoft Kinect. No wonder it sold over 8 million sets. The market still has the console + Kinect sets lying on store shelves, which means that owners of XBOX 360 purchased only the Kinect sensors.

Google is going off the perch, iOS shall continue to rule the roost, WP7 shall be the deputy and come in second. Cannot say if other devices like the Nook, Kindle, Playbook, HP Slate, Palm would even make a dent in this market.

Factors for success

In my opinion, the first and foremost factor that makes a device/platform successful is how easy is it to develop for the platform. Most use Air SDK, which again requires a very expensive IDE (Flex Builder, and it is not clear what the differences between the Open Source SDK and the commercial one is, apart from the license). XCode is bundled free with every Mac. Visual Studio Express is available for free from Microsoft and to develop for the WP7, you have to install the Express version, does not work well with the Professional or Enterprise edition.

The second factor is the UI, Users like to customize their experience but leaving an OS open to change will not help, that is where iOS and WP7 score and Android fails even though it should be a hit. (Not everyone knows how to and wants to customize)

Lastly, when these two factors are in place and the market adopt the device for the coolness, developers shall also adopt the devices to develop on. There are just too many devices on the market, there are so many iOS developers as you have heard of iOS millionaires, never heard of an Android millionaire. Pixelmator earned over $1million in revenue over 20 days. So which platform do you think people want to develop for?

UPDATE : [28 Jan 2011] A tweet from Giana Triptiani says "Still unable to purchase my own Android app: "Server error has occurred." Google Checkout is a hot mess. Looking fwd to the Amazon Appstore."

C'mon Google, get your act together, or be ready to be forgotten ...desserts are out, its the time for healthy eating.