Android: 3 Questions, 3 Answers


Everyone has their opinion about Android – and they’re entitled to it – but it seems the majority of folks still have their reservations concerning Android’s potential to succeed and flourish.

Take for example Paul Kapustka from GigaOM with his recent article titled, “Android: Much Coolness, But 3 Big Problems“. We don’t mean to pick on Paul… in fact, we enjoy reading his articles and he offers great industry insight.

I just want to address the 3 “problems” – they aren’t really “problems at all. They are really just “questions” and we’ve got the “answers”. Please excuse the grotesque overuse of quotations, we were indeed doing the little “quotey thing” with our fingers. Come on – it’s Friday – we’re antsy!

From the article itself:

Specifically the problems are:

– how many carriers are really going to offer Android phones?
– how will users find Android applications?
– how will developers convince users to take a chance and download their app?

And here are our answers.

How Many Carriers are really going to offer Android phones?

To start? At least Sprint and T-Mobile… within 1 year? Mostly all.

Sprint and T-Mobile are founding members of the OHA, making 2 of the Top 4 American wireless carriers automatic locks to offer Android. In addition, any carrier smaller than the top 4 will likely want to hop on the bandwagon… afterall, if the Big 2 aren’t offering Android then why not create a free competitive advantage by making it available? Afterall, it doesn’t cost THEM anything… OR the consumer for that matter.

Verizon and AT&T are a bit different. They can afford, at least initially, to leave Android alone. And if they DO offer Android enabled handsets, they’ll have the flexibility to mess with code and limit features… which is the unfortunate situation their customers are in today.

You’ve heard us talk about Android as a Mobile Revolution in previous articles… and that is EXACTLY why Verizon and AT&T will be forced to fully embrace Android within 12 months of the initial release. The consumers will dictate the market, not the carriers. Right now they have no better alternative but once Android is released and they see all the exciting wares and apps that their friends with Sprint and T-Mobile have, they’re going to jump ship.

This will happen even if the Big V and AT&T offer Android but only with limited openness. If another carrier offers Android with all the bells and whistles, including FREE access to any Android Application they could possibly imagine, don’t you think it will worth it for people to jump ship?

It will be. And they WILL jump ship if the big guns DON’T fully embrace Android to some extent. Their consumers will become refugees with Android as their asylum. But the big guns didn’t get to be big guns out of sheer luck. They’re not stupid.

And that’s why you’ll see the vast majority of carriers offer Android within 12 months. The Mobile Revolution has begun.

How Will Users Find Android Applications?

Google has already made it clear that the OHA is working on measures to ensure that finding and downloading Android Applications will be as simple as ever. Do you think that 30+ companies will put all this effort into a platform that is based on 3rd party development of applications and forget about a distribution model?

There is a plan. What exactly is that plan? We don’t know yet. We may not find out until just before the first Android handsets are released. But such a basic question will not be overlooked by 30+ multinational companies with revenue in the Billions of dollars. It’s a fundamental need for the Android platform to succeed and flourish.

So trust us… this isn’t a question of “if” but “when”. They’ll probably provide something similar to the iPhone App Store but take the technology to the next level.

How Will Developers Convince Users to Take a Chance and Download Their App?

This isn’t a question for the OHA folks and Android, but more for developers. It’s like asking if the Internet will succeed because how will people find the websites they like and choose to subscribe to their RSS feed? Alright, alright… maybe not that simple, but you get the point.

I think the answer to #2 safely assumes #3 will be answered as well. But, Android users will find out about the best applications by word of mouth, through friends, through Android related websites like Phandroid, Android Forums and others. How do people find out about great bands and musical acts? The musicians themselves have to promote themselves and naturally, if the music is good enough, certain bands will become popular and successful on a grand scale.

Again, I think this is more a question developers are asking themselves. Google will provide the model to find and download apps, and there will be a long list of independent sources reviewing and covering apps, and developers will use the tools they have to get the word out there.

So there you have it.

Three questions. Three answers. One Solution.


Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. Discovery and delivery of applications is not a hard problem to solve, as it has been done for years for other types of mobile content. At SlideME, we use OMA OTA for delivery, which is standard in the industry.

    The hard part is getting visibility for developer’s applications. If Google, or whoever, opens up a mega-store, then how is the lowly developer going to get their application noticed among a repository that hosts professional applications from NFL, Disney and a multitude of others? This would just be the same old industry practice and very little would fundamentally change.

    The angle at SlideME is to create social interactions between the end-users and developers that improve testing, feature requests and allow donations. With our client, there is as much focus on discovering high-quality developers as there is the applications themselves.

  2. While I applaud the enthusiasm of your article, I must strongly disagree with its message:

    Verizon and AT&T should not be forced to offer Android-equipped cellular phones, provided that Limo (and other Linux based OSes) is capable of running Android applications. I remember hearing that Android was a Linux distribution – meaning that it should adhere to the same set of rules that other Linux distributions stick to. If so, we should see applications on Android showing up on Limo.

  3. Question 2 is one thing that I think that Google will struggle with. I am sure I can assume that people like us that visit this site at pretty savvy when it comes to computers, I have no doubt that “we” won’t have a problem with finding Android apps, but it is the casual user that I think we have a hard time in finding and downloading Android apps. What I think phone carriers should offer is the ability to customize the phone that you recieve initially, much like Dell’s online computer distribution.

    So people could add and remove applications that they desired, and then you could have presets like a Myspace/Facebook customised Android phone full of social networking apps. A Multimedia Android phone with a video and audio players available from the home screen. Etc etc.

    I think this also kind of fits the whole open source nature of the Android platform.

  4. That’s an awesome idea Ashley, I’m giving you credit on the upcoming post mentioning your “Dell” distribution model.

  5. The is not a comment, but a question. I want to by a G1, but I was told that you could not save pictures that are sent to you. Is that true and if so is there a program I could download to make that happen? This is the only reason I’m holding back from upgrading to one.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Cindi Ried

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