First thought on Android

So Google finally released not a gPhone, but a development platform: Androïd. I’ve spent some – little – time to play with it, and here are my thougt:

- As a user it’s obviously much better and polished UI than Symbian or Windows Mobile. But in the iPhone days, it’s quite poor. The most annoying thing is the usage of menus, on a touch screen. The menus are not visible once closed, and does not seem to have a way to open them just with the touch screen.

- As a developer, it’s both very cool, and a nightmare: very cool, because the Java API seems quite complete and useable, there are some nice UI effects and it facilitate the integration of applications within the phone, and a nightmare because this is now a new platform to support. It’s not J2ME compatible, but supports partially some JSR.
Let me summarize the development landscape these days. We have:

  • XHTML/Wap family
  • the iPhone mobile browsing familiy
  • the iPhone native/ObjectiveC
  • Symbian
  • Windows Mobile
  • FlashLite
  • and of course J2ME

and now we can add Androïd with probably native/C++ Androïd and Java Androïd. Not sure that we should thank Google for this one!

What are Androïd chances of being successful?

Can the OpenHandsetAlliance make the difference? In the mobile industry, we probably have more consortium than an any other industry. Consortium for handsets, for platforms, for games,…. But usually, once a consortium is created, it’s the beginning of the end: most of them never released something interesting.

Can the applications make the difference? I am sure that you can easily create very cool and powerful application with Androïd. But I also see many great application on windows mobile or Symbian (and it’s probably 10 times more difficult to create them on these devices) but very few of them reach a critical mass.

Can Google make the difference? Of course, it’s backed up by Google but this could be a good or a bad thing. More and more people in the mobile industry are afraid of Google power. Third tier manufacturer, some Taiwanese and Korean will probably deliver a few Androïd devices, but is it enough to capture the market?

So, let’s wait and see. This sounds more the equivalent of Microsoft first attempts on mobile: not as good as it should be, but with deep pockets, you can afford several attempts before being succesful.

You can also check Fred post on Android 

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3 thoughts on “First thought on Android”

  1. Hi Thomas,

    I’m developing an application for Android to get some feelings about it. I have to say that the development environment is very nice and complete, that’s a pretty good point.

    I agree that mobile technologies are very fragmented but none of these companies has managed to build a platform that is good enough to make well integrated applications — only Apple did.

    I hope Android will comes out with solid hardware requirements that would avoid the tons of crappy and badly architected handset we have right now.

    That said, this is not enough to make it succeed and we will need to wait 1 more year to see the first handset running Android.

    And what about operators? I saw some of them on the Open Handset Alliance, what will be their role? WIll they finally open their network?

  2. Fred, I think it’s like starting with a new white page from new: the first version will be nice, as there is just one company behind (Google) and very limited hardware (none?) available.

    What will be more complex, is that they will have to deal with new functionalities, extension made by manufacturer, new device features, and this will create new complexity….The same story again

    Apple is doing aclosed platform, both on the software and on the hardware. This is more complex on one hand, but allows a much easiest integration, and no fragmentation.

    Concerning operators, I think that big ones will be very suspicious regarding Google, but smaller one much more open to jump in, as they have nothing to loose.

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