Thursday, March 10, 2011

Does the iPad 2's Lack of Revolutionary New Features Foretell Android Tablet's Upcoming Glory?

It has been widely noted that the new iPad 2 is an evolutionary release that doesn't bring many new features to the table. Instead it builds on the existing iPad's feature set or on features that are common elsewhere, such as cameras. Mostly, the iPad 2 is about making the device faster, smaller and superficially better while maintaining a relatively low price.

Still, in terms of overall user experience, the iPad 2 seems to keep its edge on every other tablets out there.

This prominence might however, be nearing its end. The lack of new features to catchup to means that in the near future, Google will have the freedom to spend significant time and resources fixing bugs, speeding things up, polishing the user experience and dealing with fragmentation issues.

Now I see Google, with it's geek culture, as a company full of people that want to work on leading edge new technologies, not fix bugs or obsess over UX details so it is not clear that this is actually going to happen. As a developer, I know these things can be rather dull to work on compared to inventing new things. It is however a strait forward and obvious path for Google to take. If it can manage to motivate a large enough portion of its engineers to at least temporarily concentrate their time on bug fixing, speed and polish, it should take little time for Android tablets to reach and maybe even surpass the quality of Apple's devices.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Who Is Starting New Android App Stores: Everyone and Their Dogs.

As a developer fairly successful on the Android Market (Speed Anatomy is soon to reach a million downloads). I am contacted almost daily by new companies starting their own Android App Stores. These companies are often associated with some international carrier or phone maker. They all claim to have special relationships that will get their stores installed on millions of devices.

Last year I tested five of these alternative app stores and concluded they all generated insignificant amounts of downloads.

Managing publication in five app stores took some time and was a distraction from actual coding and improving my apps. These stores all have different interfaces and features. Some event wants me to modify apps specifically for their stores.

I am writing this post as a once and for all answer to all the e-mails I get.

To all new app store companies, You are allowed to take the free ad supported version of my apps and distribute them in your store. Please get the .apk files from Google's Android Market. You may send me an email asking for explicit permission and I will say yes. I will not however, make a special build of my apps for your store. I will not agree to an NDA or any special Terms and Conditions. I do not have time to read legalese every day to determine if your store is worth my efforts. I do not have the money to hire business and legal staff to figure it out for me.

How to get me to sell my apps in your store:

Take the free version of my app and distribute it in your store to test reception in the market you serve. After that, send me an e-mail with statistics that prove to me that your store generates lots of downloads of my apps. If the numbers are high enough and you have a good reputation with users and developers, I will consider putting the effort of filling the paper work and reading your terms and conditions to get the paid versions of my apps in your store. If your process is not streamlined and easy to use, I will not complete it. If your terms and conditions make me nervous, I will give up on you.

Maybe someone should create a central broker for all these stores. I would be willing to agree to some standardized terms and conditions, send my apps to one place and fill a check mark for each store I want my apps to be in. This broker would have to make it easy and cheap to accept international payments.

I reality I'm not sure any company has enough weight to create an alternative app store that is worth selling in. Amazon you say? I hear their process and their terms are the worst of the bunch.