More Thoughts about Android

Open Platform
Despite Android being a open platform (you can download the complete OS sourcecode and compile by yourself if you have the urge to do so), there 10.000’s of applications and only very few of them are open too. Android as an open platform to deliver closed and proprietary products. Lets see how that works out in future. Unlike Ubuntu which is an Open Source OS with a vast Open Source applications ecosystem. I suspect with more hardware manufacturer coming on board its going to be more complicated, hopefully it wont start splitting or forking at some stage.

Market Access as Developer
Is it impossible to get into the market with a new application, the top 100 is dominated by applications that are around since Android was born (having a high download rate or just being the first to create a specific application type that was not there yet) or because they have a very good concept and are implemented very well and then spread virally.
So for you newbie developer it is very hard to get a serious user base. You better have a unique idea and some design skills !
With 300.000 newly registered Android Phones every day, any application in the market will be downloaded by someone. My simple counting application was downloaded more than 100 times.
Assuming you can sell an application at 1$, can create a serious amount of cash. Even 10.000 downloads is a lot of money, and I see lots and lots of ridiculous pay-apps where I just wonder who pays for this.
It is all statistics ! And more interesting, it is impossible to track for the finance departments of governments, you potentially make 100.000 a year without paying tax. Your earnings come via google payment.

Visible Trojan Horses
How often do you seriously look at the permissions an application ask for while installing ? Now, I look what they ask for, earlier I just press OK. Why does a memory games for kids needs full internet access and the ability to make phone calls ?? Its is not a big deal to create an app that secretly scan the SD card and happily transfer it to somewhere.  With windows you dont see Trojan Horses coming in, with Android you invite them openly (if you dont open your eyes!).

IP Protection ?
Copyright infringement is widespread. There are hundred of memory games, puzzles, wallpapers, drawing games and soundboards with images and sounds of movies and cartoon characters, created by anyone but not licensed (by the copyright holder) developers. It seems there is a tutorial about Android memory games somewhere, if you search for memory games, there are hundred’s, just with different images. I wish there would be a filter when browsing through the market.
Update: Here it is > http://mobile.dzone.com/news/memory-game… The complete sourcecode for your to create one more memory game !

On the other side I wonder when you can download or torrent complete CD’s full with APK’s of commercial applications and your apps start spreading around without you getting any payment. I think there are some concepts but no enforcement of 1 app runs on 1 device. Could be part of the download and installation process

Dont buy tablets now !
I almost bought a Galaxy Tab last week (after passing the crap Palroid to my daughter of 3 years). But reading the online news (rumors) reveals there will be no Android 3.0 for it, but rather a Galaxy Tab 2 presented in mid February. So any money spend on Android 2.x tablets is wasted money.

Hardware overkill
Android 3.0 is targeting tablets which become more and more powerful (and expensive). What will happen to regular phones ? Soon we will have widespread of applications that wont run on a phone because of less powerful hardware. They might even introduce a power benchmark index for each application and if your phone is lower than the required index you cant run it.

Pricing
What is the point of tablets beyond the 1000$ mark ? They are venturing into another market that just died, netbooks. I like Android because it is cheap and powerful, if I spend more than 1000$ I get a notebook and load it with Ubuntu. And a 10″ tablet is not that much smaller than a notebook. The same time we will see notebooks becoming smaller with removable keyboards. This year will be interesting where the market and demand will shift towards.

Thoughts on Open Source Software

OSS has grown up, it came a long way from basement hacking by students to “openness” of software by multi-national enterprises that we have today, though luckily the first group is still there creating innovative, sometimes genius sparks, and sharing it with the world. In our company we fully tap into the OSS ecosystem and try to give back as much as possible by using OSS, raising bugs and giving feedback.
Still there is the confusion OSS means free (as free beer). I wan to raise this following the discussion caused b the change of license for the ZK Ajax Framework (GPL to LGPL, creating CE, PE and EE edition). If you use a library for your commercial projects and expect certain quality and support for it, you can’t expect the company behind it to work completely for free. Its business not charity work, and in this case you still can access the sourcecode, you can download all the editions and if you are happy with the community edition (CE) it is still perfect if you dont want to pay money.
On the other side, it shows it is smarter to start from the very beginning with a dual license scheme as a software shop, free and “less free”, then you never trigger a discussion about this at a later stage  !

About Open Source

Working in the Software industry for the last 15 years I saw the nice and ugly sides of programming. For me the biggest challenge in software is to create and keep a team of talented and motivated developer who love their work. In bigger companies it is almost impossible to create a environment for this (with exceptions like  maybe Google). I always admired the quality of gaming software, seems here we have a high level of identification with company and product.

Back to the topic Open Source: It is astonishing what high level of quality Open Source Teams achieve without meeting each other and big management overhead, basically without spending money. I guess it is impossible to create such motivation in a private company ?!

If you are not really sure what OPEN SOURCE means, you better check the definition and limitation. A good starting point is the Open Source Initiative (link). Free software does not necessary mean free like in free beer !

You want to browse Open Source hosts with a myriad of projects ? Check out the links at the right side of this blog under OPEN SOURCE COLLABORATION.