Over recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation over when Android users will be able to buy applications from Googles Market, but some of the terms and conditions in the Developer Distribution Agreement could scare many developers away before they deploy their first application. The first thing that came to light is that purchasers will have 24 hours in which they can get a refund apparently with no questions asked.
In recent days there the issue of the US patent obtained by Apple relating to the multi-touch functionality has reared it’s head on the Android development lists, and the discussions have left me deeply concerned about whether Android will ever become a serious global player in the mobile OS market. The discussion started rolling when a patch to add multi-touch functionality on Android was posted on the android-platform mailing list, and ran in parallel another list directly discussing the impact the patent may have, but surprisingly ended up with a post from a Google employee saying that patents should not be discussed on any of the google hosted android lists, and this was further expanded by another Google employee saying that it was “because of legal repercussions”, and “it is simply best not to know about them”.
Funky Android has made available a Android application licensing system via AndAppStore. It’s something that we feel has been missing from the Android space and we hope that it’ll help companies looking to focus on (and thus make money from) Android applications. So if you’ve been waiting for a way to commercially license your apps feel free to give it a spin and send in your feedback. (Declaration of interest : I am a director of Funky Android)
It looks like the folks at Google are listening and they’ve taken a big step which will help a number of developers get at least one Android powered device to work with. Yesterday Dan Morill announced a new version of the SDK with a link to the android blog, what he didn’t mention is that the blog post also reveals that Google have created a programme for developers which allows they to get what is basically an unlocked T-Mobile G1.
The G1 has been around a few weeks, it’s billed as “The phone that’s built for the internet”, but it would appear that the G1 isn’t built for email which many people consider as being one of the most useful things on the internet for over 35 years. The G1 has two in-built Email clients; one is for Googles' GMail, the other is for accounts with whichever ISP you’re with. Personally after seeing several stories of problems with Google locking accounts (see here, here, and here for a few) I’d prefer to stay with my ISP, but that leaves me with an Email client which is being described by other G1 users as “the most pathetic attempt I’ve ever seen” and “frustrating”, views which I wholeheartedly agree with.
After talking to the in-store staff at the T-Mobile store in Maidstone, Kent, UK, I am now the owner of a G1 looking at a total cost of £360 ($580) which is about the price I would expect to pay for an unlocked G1 You may wonder why yesterday I was looking figures that were twice that amount, well, it’s a mixture of good fortune and good customer service. I explained my situation to the in-store staff and they explained they could offer me a “£20 per month for 18 months” contract or a “£30 per month for 12 months” contract (both of which have a total cost of £360), but I would have to pay more for the ‘phone.
After getting interested in Android after Mike Jennings talk, weeks of coding on AndAppStore.com, reading up on APIs, watching and getting involved with discussions on the Android developers and discussion mailing lists, and following various Android community sites to see if the G1 was the start of the Android revolution, I’ve decided that, for now, I’m not going to get an Android ‘phone, and here are the reasons why; The T-Mobile Deal (phone & contract)
The New York times is reporting a security flaw in the G1, and to me it’s confirmation that Google left opening up the source to public far too late by doing it the day before users could go out and buy hardware with it installed. If the source code had been available a few months (or even weeks) ago there would have been time for the collective eyeballs of the development community to take a look for problems like the reported one (which was found after a few days) and fix them before the device reached the hands of consumers.
If you want to have your application listed in Androids Marketplace the first thing you have to do is pay them $25. That’s right, even if you’re developing a free application for their open platform to list on their “user-driven” marketplace, it’s going to cost you a $25 entry fee. Do you have an app you’d like to to sell?, well, if you make a sale via the Marketplace, that’ll be another 30% (yes, thirty percent) of your sales going to them.
If you’ve taken an interest in Googles Android platform before you’ll be familiar with phrases such as “Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices” from when the Android and Open Handset Alliance initiative was started, and if you’ve attended talks by some of the Evangelists you’ll have been told that you can replace any part of the ‘phones software, but, this morning, it would appear that you won’t be on a level playing field.