Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Encouraging Android and iPhone application developers

We discuss the importance of building communities of users and of developers.

Google and T-Mobile just announced the availability of the first phone running Google's Android operating system. Android is strategic for Google because it is bundled with their applications, and they are entering the mobile Internet access market along with the Apple iPhone.

Both companies are trying to attract application developers for their platforms. Apple has established a $100 million venture capital fund for start up companies with ideas for interesting applications and has an iPhone Developers Program where developers find tools and technical and business information.

Google also understands the importance of developers to the success of Android, and they have allocated $10 million for awards for innovative applications. The first set of winners has been selected, and the second round of competition is under way. The ten top applications in the first round are here.

Apple has created an online store to help developers sell and distribute their applications, and Google has announced their intention to do the same for applications that run on Android phones.

To encourage development, Apple distributes free applications at their store, and charges a reasonable commission on commercial applications -- they hope to profit by selling more Apple hardware. Google will be selling advertising, not hardware, so they hope their store will encourage both software developers and handset manufacturers to adopt the open-source Android platform.

Finally, and this is highly speculative, Android is Google's operating system for mobile Internet access devices -- might they one day release a full-scale version for the desktop, competing directly with Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple OS X? Microsoft and Apple adapted their desktop operating systems to hand-held devices -- might Google be planning to adapt their hand-held operating system to the desktop one day?

Is Google truly competing with Apple? Does it help or hurt Google if someone buys an iPhone instead of an Android handset?