I skipped the section telling businesses to think twice before deciding they needed a mobile application however, as there didn’t appear to be any business people in the audience. I was interested to find that during the panel discussion it was suggested to build mobile websites instead of mobile applications, and in discussion with individuals afterwards, the theme came up again. It’s clear that a number of developers in attendance agreed with me that mobile applications are looked at too readily, instead of options such as the mobile web or SMS.
I’m going to be talking about Android for the Summer of Tech Mobile Developers Panel on the 8th of February. This is going to be my first public speaking engagement, and I’m really looking forward to it. Come and support, the discussion should be interesting and informative, and there’s pizza and beer! You need to RSVP on Lil’ Regie. All the Summer of Tech events I’ve attending have been great. Hope to see you there.
I’ll be busy preparing for the next week, a new blog post will be forthcoming sometime after the panel.
If you’re going to choose a single mobile platform to develop for in the next year, there are three main alternatives: Android; iPhone; and Windows Phone 7. It’s my belief Android is the platform for developers new to mobile.
Colleagues I talk to are surprised about my opinion. iPhone has the Apple design x-factor, and appears to still be the in thing around my office. And Windows mobile has a new, effective and quite unique design aesthetic applied to its user interface.
However there are reasons that Android looks like the best of the bunch.
The most immediately important reason is price. The cheapest Android phone I can find on Pricespy is an LG GT540 Optimus at NZ$281. The HTC Tattoo and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini are similar prices. The cheapest iPhone on there is an iPhone 3G 8GB for NZ$599. Whilst I can’t find any pricing for Windows Phone 7 at the moment, the high minimum specifications lead me to conclude it’s prices will be in the iPhone price range.
Gadget fetishists will spend a lot of money to have a really nice piece of kit that’s well designed. But Android phones are starting to get cheap enough to appeal to consumers who are looking for just a little more than a vanilla mobile. As consumers start to realise that smartphones are finally priced within their reach, a whole new audience is going to be available to Android developers.
But longer term there’s another important factor. As an open platform, Android is going to be used as the basis of more and more non-phone devices. I can’t make my points more eloquently than this article: Tipping Points and The Future of Electronics. But I’ll leave you with a quote from it: “But that’s beside the point, which is this: saying that Android is fragmented as a phone platform by comparing it to the iPhone is like saying the iPhone App Store is closed by comparing it to the PC. It’s the wrong comparison. Instead, think of it this way: Android is the most unified electronics device platform in the industry’s history.”.
I think Android is going to become a bigger market than the other two platforms, both for applications, and for skills. Android is a great platform to be involved in for a software engineer. I’m excited to be learning it.