Is Android Google’s Launching Pad into Apple’s Airspace?

August 15th, 2010 Leave a comment
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Android on Apple

With the release of iOS version 4, Apple continues to build on their momentum as the leading blue chip smart phone provider. As Google takes strides to develop its Android OS, however, many analysts see emerging trends that point in Google’s favor. AdMob’s own mobile metrics report (http://metrics.admob.com/2010/06/may-2010-mobile-metrics-report/) shows Android’s operating system share rising to over 25%, with Apple holding steady at around 40%, Nokia at just over 20% and Blackberry at just under 10%. In terms of the ability to scale, Android provides developers and handset manufacturers with a compelling alternative to the closed Apple ecosystem, potentially increasing the rivalry in the battle over wireless airwaves.

While consumers will continue to decide which handsets meet their own hardware needs, the larger battle remains in terms of functionality through the growing number of mobile applications. The Apple store remains the leader in adoption by developers worldwide but Android is rapidly gaining momentum for its open source platform, long term revenue potential and multi-device approach that can scale across a variety of mobile devices. One major reason for developer migration to Android is the tight ecosystem which Apple has built around iOS. The most recent Android version 2.2 (Froyo) has a professional team at Google overseeing the development as well as thousands of independent developers submitting bug fixes and code contributions (http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/06/froyo-code-drop.html). The availability of fully transparent developer tools, emulators and testing kits offers developers an opportunity to see under the hood of Android and keep their applications ahead of the game, rather than trying to respond to updates as they do with Apple.

As Apple continues to utilize its own proprietary closed coding base (similar in that regard to Facebook), Android utilizes Java and C++ code bases, making it easy to port existing C++ code to the platform. As a result, software developers can greatly benefit from the streamlined process of shifting from desktop to mobile development. Perhaps the greatest advantage for Android coders is a set of standards that allows applications to work on a variety of existing and emerging devices, potentially vastly increasing the user base over time. Within the Android Software Development Kit you can specify particular types of hardware features required, allowing the marketplace to filter your application for installation on a wide variety of devices that meet your needs. Developers can specify required and optional hardware features so they can scale their applications across all applicable devices:

<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.{feature}" 
        android:required="true/false" />

One of the major advantages of Android over iOS is the wide range of devices you can potentially develop for. The wealth and diversity of Java libraries make it easy to create variants and unique approaches to the market for phones, netbooks and emerging devices. Rather than independently writing an app for the iPad, Mac and iPhone you can easily customize and scale you application for a wide variety of hardware with a core code base. The royalty free, open source platform provides insight into the architecture as well as financial advantages in terms of licensing and royalty costs. A combination of development and financial incentives makes Android increasingly attractive for both consumers and developers.

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