10 reasons to start programming for Android

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an Android fan, I am not even doing programming for Android, it will maybe write also some arguments against it, but please allow me to list the reasons that,  if I were to write code for smartphones, I would choose Android:

1. it is Google behind it!

maybe this is assumed on subjective matters, but the way Google did buisiness until now recommends them as one of the most innovative companies and also one of the most respected companies in the world.  They can offer the best software-in-the-cloud services and also the best online marketing which are very important aspects when considering mobile OS market. Probably their  biggest problem would be that the are far more notorious for their web-search services and it is quite hard to shift customers’s perception. Another drawback could be that they are so big that Android currently  is just a tiny slice of their incomes … (is not like Apple where iPhone is a considerable part of their market share), so they are not pressed in investing so much in Android.

2. Statistics are all putting a strong bet on Android. It was sales-leader in the first quarter of 2010 in US among smartphone software platforms in US and the expectations are to see more and more Android-enabled smartphones (maybe you already heard about Gartner‘s presumptions about Android becoming second most deployed smartphone software platform by 2012, reaching around 15%)

well … the following three reasons are pointing mainly to the same thing: Android is an open platform belonging to an Open Alliance consisting in many handset manufacturers (as HTC, Motorola, Samsung), software companies (as Google or eBay), semiconductor companies (Intel, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm) and carrier operators (T-Mobile, Vodafone, China Mobile … Verizon is expected to join). Just for the sake of having a perfect round number looking good in the title of this post 🙂 I decided to consider followfing three aspects:

3. Open platform for smartphone manufacturers and portability for developers, in fact this is more a Linux’ plus than Google’s but this is life … it is the same as it was around twenty years ago, when Linux emerged as the first serious opponent to Microsoft’s Windows for PC desktops, today Linux is facing also a giant in the mobile industry: Apple, we’ll see how this will end.

4. Smartphone manufacturers start to increasingly consider Android as a more suitable underlying SW platform. Its big advantage is that it is not, as it is the case with oher smartphone OSes, so coupled to a manufacturer. iPhone is out of discussion in this sense, Symbian is bound to Nokia, I mean in terms of funds and economical control (YES there are also Samsungs and SonyEricsson’s equipped with Symbian, but Nokia is the biggest founder of Symbian Foundation; I am just wondering what could became Symbian, if Nokia were not joining the partnership established back in 1998 to purchase Psion Software)
Maybe the closest example would be WM. How the future will look like: Windows or Linux? … this is not the first time when this question begs.

5. Mobile carrier operators ok… so we talked about the chances of Android to be deployed on a smartphone, but let’s now focuse a little bit on the chances that it has to reach the client. Basically the only way for a smartphone to get, along with its associated software, to the customers is via a mobile carrier supplier. Which would be reasons that a mobile carrier supplier would choose to sell smartphones equipped with a certain OS? Are those reasons different than the ones that a smartphone supplier would choose one or another OS? The main idea is that a mobile carrier supplier will choose an OS that will survive a longer period on the market. Verizon, T-Mobile, Vodafone and many others are interested in keeping their customers for a longer period, but besides their tempting 1000 minutes offers, the smartphones that they’re selling is another way to gain customers. Here you may read many more about the forecasts concerning customers’ addiction to one mobile carrier supplier or another.

6. Tools + Documentation If you will comlpain me about how horrible is to work with Eclipse compared to Visual Studio, or how nice looks an application on iPhone, I will reply you: how much of $$ do you have to unload from your pockets for Visual Studio or how much would be to buy a Mac?
Besides this Android has one of the most well-structured documentation database, all you have to do in order to start learning programming for Android is to go to the Android official developper’s site and all you’ll need you got it there. I am considering this aspect also because I’ve heard many complaints (one including on this blog also :)) about how horribly is structured Symbian’s documentation.

7. It is Java! 🙂

Actually this is a logical consequence of #6, tools and documentation are going hand in hand with the programming language used.
Man … to be honest I am wondering myself why people (consummers as well as developers) embraced iPhone with so much frenezy. As an iPhone developer you really have to know Objective-C (isn’t it so??),  which is not a trivial thing, maybe is not so difficult to learn, for many, but is different.
Concerning Symbian … I think you are already bored about how many times I wrote on this blog about Symbian-C++ steep learning curve.
Windows Mobile, from this point of view, is similar to Android (yeah! we have to face it, Microsoft did it quite well this time): a unified software platform and programming language in order to allow coding for industry segments ranging frmo consummer electronics to enterprise. This has to be a decisive factor in making a smooth entrance in this industry (software for smartphones) for both: individual developers as well as companies.

8. Signing and approval procedure as far as I know (I repeat, I am not a mobile software accredited observer, all the things written on this blog are simply my own views) Google and Android Market have the best and the easiest way to sign and to upload applications on the store. No certificate authority is needed to sign any Android application and this does not cost you anything, like it is the case for Symbian. Actually Nokia and Apple could get the worst degrees concerning this topic. They maybe have the worst procedure in uploading an application to the store and delivering it to the customer. In case of Android MarketStore there is no approval process, as I mentioned this brings great benefits, but also drawbacks. There’s a lot of risk involved, Android applications on the store are prone to many more bugs or to a lower quality. Somehow the market itself will equilibrate this and will apply a natural selection. There are not few of you who heard about mysterious Apple’s approval blackbox (where I’ve heard that around 40% of the applications are rejected).

This is, somehow, the same idea that Linux was built on, it started within a community of programmers (not within a company) as a volunteership product. After years of living with Linux systems, statistics showed that had the steepest positive evolution curve ever, could be this the same with Android…. ?

Generally speaking, I didn’t read any complaint about publishing an application on AndroidMarketplace.

9. There will (should) be a market switch. Nowadays most of the people regard iPhone and implicitely Apple, as the smartphone software giant. Globally Symbian is the leader with a quite big advance, I already wrote you in a previous post, BlackBerry is world leader in the business sector, but they will loose some percents, for sure. In US, Symbian is almost absent, I wrote you also about this, so Apple seems to have the monopoly for the individual/personal use segment. There has to be someone to compete with them, for sure the industry will drive the market towards this direction, everybody fears a gigantic and monopolistic player Apple looks like.  

10. Higher quality Android applications are coming. This is also a sum of all other reasons. Satistics showed that Android MarketPlace had the highest growing number of applications. This means that more and more programmers were encouraged to write software for Android, and … this means also that they had a serious reason to do it. By March 2009 there wee only ~2000 applications on Android Market compared to ~ 25000 on Appstore, now Android strenghted its position and got closer to iPhone, ~50000 apps compared to ~200 000 on Appstore (by April 2010).

Anyway iPhone is iPhone and is not easy to uncrown, but nobody will like a single player in this game. Personally I am more with Android due to its commitement to the open-source initiative and especially because of the the way they are easing and shortening the process of developping and subscribing applications. I think they hold the first place in terms of who is making programmer’s life easier.


4 Responses to 10 reasons to start programming for Android

  1. kellogs says:

    Well well … Now we are talking. Good read, that’s the spirit!

    Back to the earth:

    >>you really have to know Objective-C (isn’t it so??), which is not a trivial thing

    Is so, but it really is just another OO programming language. Combine it with X-code and you can safely say it is trivial.

    >>Nowadays most of the people regard iPhone and implicitely Apple, as the smartphone software giant


    >>Basically the only way for a smartphone to get, along with its associated software, to the customers is via a mobile carrier supplier

    I had no idea it was like this outside our national borders.

    • I knew that this post will get a positive feedback from your side :))
      Thanks for agreeing 🙂
      Concerning mobile carrier supplier in Romania it should be the same, but there are not so many competitors, like in US, for example, and maybe that’s why this is not perceived as much as in some other parts.
      Actually for me it looks quite obvious … smartphones, generally, are sold only via mobile carrier dealers, so smartphone suppliers + smartphone SW developers must have a close eye on them … basically this is the only possible distribution channel

  2. kellogs says:

    Sooo.. you are telling me I cannot go to emag, purchase an Android device and place the 3G SIM card I recently got from RDS and rock the ‘net ? Then I must have thrown 10 RON + 5 RON + 2 euro out the window. Multiply it by 16 months! Hmm.. anyone wants a RDS subscription SIM card ?

    • well, take me easy … I just said that this is just only one (among other 9) ways for a snartphone SW platform to be “on the stage”
      for sure you can purchase any device on emag, not only Android euipped ones, but I don’t know, it should be a matter of statistics, to my understanding most of the smartphones are sold via mobile carrier dealers and not freely, unlocked (the prices are far smaller and the benefits are far more, than to use a SIM card)
      now … it depends … what it the primary purpose when buying the smartphone, is it for getting phone calls deals (like the 1000 minutes/month) of for entertainment (for testing SW applications on it)
      anyhow, I repeat, it was just a suposition, but as far as I saw (and wrote) about Symbian’s “notoriety” in US and that is primarly related to this aspect (mainly Nokia was not so concerned in supplying smartphones in CDMA technology, but more in GSM) I would consider this reason too …

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