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Why the Google Android Phone Isn't Taking Off 745

Posted by kdawson
from the know-thine-enemy-and-drive-him-nuts dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Farhad Manjoo writes in Slate that while the iPhone commands nearly 14 percent of smartphone sales and BlackBerry about 21 percent, Android has only 3 percent. And even though Android is far friendlier to developers, it has failed to attract anywhere near the number of apps now clogging the iPhone. Manjoo writes that Google went wrong by giving handset manufacturers and carriers too much control over the design and marketing of Android phones so there is no idealized 'Google phone' — instead, Android devices get names like the T-Mobile G1 or the myTouch 3G, and each is marketed separately and comes with its own distinct capabilities and shortcomings. 'Outside handset manufacturers lack ambition — -none of them even seems to be trying to match the capabilities of the iPhone, let alone to knock us down with features that far surpass those of Apple's device,' writes Manjoo. 'A smart handset manufacturer could build a top-of-the-line Android device that outshines Apple's phone in at least a few areas — better battery life, a much better Web browser, a brighter or bigger screen, faster or more functional controls... something that might help Android inspire gadget lust. But so far, that's not happening.' John Gruber echoes this advice and adds this advice to Android manufacturers: 'If Apple is BMW, you can be Porsche.'"
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Why the Google Android Phone Isn't Taking Off

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  • "It's the Network" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stupendoussteve (891822) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:01PM (#29180019)

    The G1 and myTouch are nice, unfortunately they're on T-Mobile, which is nice but not nice everywhere. If T-Mobile worked in my area I would certainly try them out, at least.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315)
      That's my problem. T-mobile has some craptacular coverage out where I live.. (and it's even hit and miss closer to the big city...) I'd rather them get some decent coverage (and I hate AT&T as much as I do Microsoft.) But what's funny is that I'm not interested in an iPhone, even though I'm a mac-head. (I have 4 Macs of varying ages... evenly split between Intel and PowerPC.) I guess I'm not the target demographic, but I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what that demographic might be (I'll leave that t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheGreenNuke (1612943)
      Agreed. Most people I know consider T-Mobile a second rate carrier and the only thing holding them back from getting the G1 or myTouch. It would be interesting to see what happened if they started selling them unlocked thus allowing them to be used on AT&T's network for some (closer to) direct competition with the iPhone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sadler121 (735320)

        An unlocked Android phone will only work on GSM/GPRS/EDGE. T-Mobile and AT&T use different frequency allocations for UMTS, UMTS 850/1900 for AT&T and 2100/1700 MHz for TMobile. What would be great is if we can get a quad band Android phone that supported those frequencies, but as of yet, there is none.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Mobile_Telecommunications_System#Spectrum_allocation [wikipedia.org]

        • by mini me (132455) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:04PM (#29180579)

          Rogers uses UMTS 850/1900 and offers the HTC Dream (same as the G1) and the HTC Magic. It shouldn't be impossible to get one into the US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by markkezner (1209776)
          FYI, my Android Dev Phone 1 is quad band and can work with at&t or theoretically any other GSM provider. Related Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]

          I can't speak for the vanilla G1, but I don't think it's capable of this.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sadler121 (735320)

            Quad Band GSM, not UMTS. According to the wikipedia article you linked to, the dev phone only has 3G WCDMA (1700/2100 MHz).

            Of course, others have suggested to by a G1/G2 off ebay from Canada unlocked as Rogers uses the same frequencies as at&t in the States.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by WaywardGeek (1480513)

        Actually, T-Mobile G1 has free roaming on the AT&T, so my coverage is always at least as good as AT&T. I love hacking Android, but HTC makes crappy phones. I think that's the real reason they aren't selling well. Basically, it's a sucky phone. In particular:

        - Battery life is a joke. It's a smart-phone with a bright color display and the old Razr battery.
        - There's no headphone jack. Instead, you get a kludge-cord that connects your headset through the power jack.
        - The camera takes butt-ugly pic

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:18PM (#29180187) Homepage Journal

      In the US that is tied to the lack of CDMA support. You have four major players. Number 1 Verizon and number 3 Sprint are CDMA. Number two AT&T is GSM but has the iPhone. That leaves only number four to push Android. Add in that HTC is heavy into Windows Mobil and you have a not great phone on the number four carrier. Too bad they didn't include CDMA from the start and got a phone maker like Samsung, LG, or Motorola the be the exclusive hardware partner.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:40PM (#29180391)
        But do you think Verizon would even -allow- a phone with Android to run? I mean, I've compared the same dumb phone (I think it was the Razr) across AT&T Sprint and Verizon, the AT&T and Sprint phones were pretty good but the Verizon phone was pretty much neutered to the point where they can't do anything beyond changing the background, changing it from ring to vibrate and using the camera. Verizon is -terrible- when it comes to phones, they might have the "network" but when all the phones are total crap, the network is useless. I think it even went as far as Verizon rejecting any phone with wi-fi.
        • Verizon's smartphones aren't so locked down as their regular offerings. I know my palm centro works great and can do anything any other centro can do. Verizon also is putting out an android phone by the holiday season I believe, named after some american city. With all that said, the level of lock-down of most of Verizon's phones is pretty goddamn appalling.

        • by Bodero (136806) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:01PM (#29180559)

          Verizon Android Phones Are Officially Coming [phandroid.com].

          There exists a pretty strong misunderstanding that Verizon "locks down" their phones. They did, yes. But in the past year, they've stopped disabling GPS on their phones [intomobile.com] (including the Omnia, Storm and Tour), said that all future Blackberries will have Wifi [boygeniusreport.com], and launched their Open Development Initiative [verizon.com] to get data devices (among other things) on their network.

          Oh, and their next generation network (which is launching 2+ years before AT&T's) is LTE, based off the GSM standard. [engadget.com]

          But I don't blame you, they've definitely had restrictive tendencies in the past.

        • by johndiii (229824) * on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:04PM (#29180577) Journal

          The extent to which they locked down the Razr is the reason that I am no longer a Verizon customer. They were way too willing to cripple the phone so that they could charge me for services.

          I have an iPhone now. I'm not wild about everything that Apple and AT&T do, but I'm much happier with them than Verizon.

      • by xzvf (924443) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:42PM (#29181463)
        The current cell phone oligopoly needs to be broken the same way the Bell system was busted. There was a time when you could only buy your land line phone from Bell, there was only one directory (Free -white pages, advertised - yellow pages), and they owned the system from handset to handset. Costs were high, service was slow, and innovation was non-existent. There was a time when having two phones in the same house was the province of the ultra-rich. Then it was broken, you no longer had to rent your phone from Bell, but could go to the local store and buy one. Plug into an rj-11 jack and go. Soon every house had a phone in every room, you could buy answering machines, plug in a modem.... heck it wasn't too long before phone companies started to innovate and provide other services like caller ID. Sorry for the history rant, but we need the major cell and network providers to stop owning us handset to handset again. Apple shouldn't have had to convince AT&T to carry its phone, there should be a generic standard like RJ-11 where we can plug our phones into their network, and they move the bits. If they want to innovate on top of the bit moving, great, but don't their ownership of the devices is the problem that is stifling the market.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sparr0 (451780)

          There IS a generic standard. You can buy any unlocked quad-band GSM phone and use it on pretty much any GSM network. The problem is, people don't want to pay full price for the hardware. Is the iPhone worth $600+ to you? It sure as hell is not a $200 device, by a long stretch, but that's what people want to pay for it, and they are willing to take provider lockin for the discount.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Thing 1 (178996)

          There was a time when you could only buy your land line phone from Bell [...]

          Actually, it was even worse: you had to rent your phone from Bell; I recall my parents being warily convinced that we should purchase a phone, so we could remove that line-item from the bill. (They were concerned that any issues with it, Bell wouldn't cover it, or worse, an issue with the line Bell could point to the owner-owned phone and say "sorry that voids the warrantee" or something similar.)

        • by Thomas Miconi (85282) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:22AM (#29187187)

          The current cell phone oligopoly needs to be broken the same way the Bell system was busted. There was a time when you could only buy your land line phone from Bell, there was only one directory (Free -white pages, advertised - yellow pages), and they owned the system from handset to handset. Costs were high, service was slow, and innovation was non-existent.

          Except for discovering / inventing information theory, the transistor, the cosmic radiowave background, Unix and the C programming language. Among other trifling, Nobel-prize winning discoveries. [wikipedia.org]
          No private company has given more to the world than Bell. Bell Labs defined the Golden Age of American science and engineering. Reading that there was "no innovation" at Bell in a /. comment is pretty depressing.

    • Buy an unlocked phone and it will be on whatever network you want, I will never understand why people still buy phones through the network. Phone networks are no charities, you will definitely end up paying back the full value of the phone in the form of overpriced contracts and roaming charges. but people like to fool themselves into thinking they're getting a good deal

      I was on the Isle of Man a few days ago and bought a sim card for my unlocked E63 and went on the interwebs for 1p a MB, if I was using
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:48PM (#29180451) Journal

        I will never understand why people still buy phones through the network. Phone networks are no charities, you will definitely end up paying back the full value of the phone in the form of overpriced contracts and roaming charges. but people like to fool themselves into thinking they're getting a good deal

        Quite simple: the cellphone companies give no discounts for buying the phone from another supplier. So, you just paid more for a phone and the only advantage that you may get is being able to break the contract at less cost. Since the cost of breaking the contract is limited, it's not an irrational decision to buy the phone from the carrier.

        Futhermore, T-Mobile will unlock one phone every 90 days at no charge.

        • they don't but they should. in my country they do, my plan costs half that of the same plan that includes a phone and my contract is only 30 days
    • by FictionPimp (712802) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:52PM (#29180487) Homepage

      Exactly, as soon as there is a good andriod phone on a network with 3g in my area that doesn't restrict my ability to install applications I'm going to take it.

      Apple has burned me and I am waiting to switch.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:03PM (#29180035)

    There's nothing, as far as I know, in any of the existing arrangements stopping Google from co-branding a phone with a manufacturer that's blessed as "the Google [whatever]". A Google-branded phone would probably be a stronger player--- moreso than a T-Mobile-branded phone that in the explanatory text tells you about how it runs Google Android.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Except for the fact that most people don't buy third party phones (well, other than this one family who is the phone-murderer and keeps buying used phones off of E-Bay to replace the phones they killed...) and so if they don't have it in AT&T, Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile's stores, no one will buy it unless there is -huge- hype about it like the iPhone, but other than that everyone pretty much just buys their phones from their cell phone company. And similarly, no one wants an expensive phone, $200 for a
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TheGreenNuke (1612943)

        $300 unlocked will not sell well

        Right, because people didn't line up to buy their $599 (8GB) or $499 (4 GB) iPhones when they first launched. $300 unlocked would be a bargain for a smartphone.

  • by jelizondo (183861) * <[jerry.elizondo] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:06PM (#29180063)

    Part of the lack of good apps is the lack of solid documentation and examples. I spent weeks learning the API, but anytime I wanted to do something more meaningful that display stuff on the screen, I would get bogged down trying to figure out how to do it.

    I'm not a newbie, I started programming computers back in the eighties (Z80 and 6502 assembler) so I know my way around, but the documentation is horrible, sometimes you think you got it all figured out and it turns out is an earlier / later version of the API, which doesn't quite work that way anyway.

    Also, for those of us outside the U.S., it's hard to get a real phone to play with, even when Google gave thousands aways at Google I/O, you can't get one internationally at a reduced price.(At least you couldn't last time I checked.)

    I gave up and decided to come back when there was some organization to the docs and some real support for independent developers

    Having said all that, I believe the platform will take off and do very well; it is simply too young.

    • by jhol13 (1087781)

      platform

      Sorry to take one word out of the context but this might be the key issue. If there are several, incompatible versions of the API then there will not be a platform.
      Exactly this is one of the complaints of JavaME and Symbian and one big strength of Apple.

      Unfortunately FOSS, and especially Linux, does not have a culture of keeping APIs unchanged, so whether Android can do it or not is yet to be seen.

      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:08PM (#29180625)

        I'm curious -- have you done any development for Android, or are you armchair'ing this one?

        They've been _extremely_ careful about what is declared a public API, to the point of holding back features on account thereof. That's one of the major reasons RFCOMM support (to pick something dear to my heart) has been unavailable for developers in every version released so far -- they're unwilling to declare the API stable until they have something they know they'll be able to maintain through newer versions of BlueZ and security audits/updates, and their compiler flags any attempts at using anything which isn't a public API (they've also released updates which break attempts to get around these measures and build software using version-specific, unreleased APIs).

        Personally, I expect Android to take off on a larger scale when the fleet of phones expected to release late this year (from numerous manufacturers) make it out their respective doors.

    • by w0mprat (1317953) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:31PM (#29181355)

      Part of the lack of good apps is the lack of solid documentation and examples. I spent weeks learning the API, but anytime I wanted to do something more meaningful that display stuff on the screen, I would get bogged down trying to figure out how to do it.

      I'm not a newbie, I started programming computers back in the eighties (Z80 and 6502 assembler) so I know my way around, but the documentation is horrible, sometimes you think you got it all figured out and it turns out is an earlier / later version of the API, which doesn't quite work that way anyway.

      Well what did you expect, Android is open source.

  • I concur 100%. When it came to ditching my turdburger iPhone 3G, the thing that kept me from considering the Android phones was that the hardware was even sorrier than the 3G was. Someone ought to take HTC by the shoulders and shake them until they start putting batteries into their phones. I've got a feeling Samsung will come out with an Android phone worth buying at some point soon, though.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:06PM (#29180073) Homepage

    I joined the dev programs so I could buy a completely unlocked phone. Honestly Google should have told carriers to stuff it and sold the GooglePhone completely unlocked.

    Market the googlephone as well. Anyone seeing mine says "what is that?" nobody knows about them because apple out marketed everyone, and google is sitting there going, buy my stuff please? pretty please?

    I'll give you a sucker, it's Pina Colada....

    It's an example of lets not market this thing and let's laso make it very un-shiny.

  • It's the phones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bzzfzz (1542813) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:12PM (#29180119)

    I spent several months at a startup where we were going to make $$profit by writing and selling Android applications. The problem is that the phones are, well, awful. The iPhone has set the standard, and things like the G1 are simply uninspiring by comparison. We would try to raise money, and in a room full of tech-savvy investors, most people have iPhones. We would pass around the G1 so they could see our app. Bottom line, they were not interested in investing money in a product that ran on a phone that was ugly.

    Consequently I now write SQL for a living and get paid by the hour.

    Android has done some great things. The control the user can have, the security model, the interaction between apps are all well thought out. One of these days it's going to be significant. Probably right after Linux is ready for the desktop.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      "... right after Linux is ready for the desktop."

      Here here.

  • Citation needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:12PM (#29180123)

    And even though Android is far friendlier to developers, it has failed to attract anywhere near the number of apps now clogging the iPhone.

    I hear people parroting the first part of that statement, invariably without any supporting evidence. Please explain - I'm asking this seriously - why Android is "far friendlier to developers". If the apps aren't being developed, I'd argue that's at least one piece of evidence running counter to that assumption. The iPhone (and iPod Touch) seemed to have a significant number of third-party apps already available at launch, so marketshare can't explain it all away. Besides, as people love saying here, the iPhone's market share is not really all that big compared to some others (no, you can't have it both ways).

    So is Android actually friendlier to developers, or is it just the old "it's on Linux and Open Source, so it contains the maximum degree of friendliness possible no matter how much a pain in the butt it is to use"?

    • Re:Citation needed (Score:4, Informative)

      by maxume (22995) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:16PM (#29180155)

      Well, you don't have to pay Apple money to develop for Android, and you don't have to get Apple's permission to distribute your app to users. Those are probably pluses even if you experiencing full-on reality distortion.

      Apple may still be providing a more attractive program though, simply by bothering to market their phones.

      • Show some evidence (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjbe (173966) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:45PM (#29180439)

        Well, you don't have to pay Apple money to develop for Android, and you don't have to get Apple's permission to distribute your app to users.

        Those are nice factors worth considering but you didn't really answer the question. Is it true that "Android is far friendlier to developers"? I don't actually know the answer and don't pretend to know. I've certainly seen no compelling evidence that Android actually is meaningfully friendlier (whatever that means) or better meets the needs/desires of developers. It might be but the evidence seems to be lacking.

        • by bobetov (448774) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:17PM (#29180701) Homepage

          What part of "don't have to pay Apple money to develop for Android" and "don't have to get Apple's permission to distribute" did you not understand?

          Android is a platform that give much more, and more meaningful, freedoms to app developers.

          I'll add another big one - on the Android platform, replacing core apps with your own version is *encouraged*, and in fact *designed into the platform*. Unlike Apple's recent filing about "altering the core experience" re: Google Voice. Apple could create an iPhone-themed app suite for the G1 tomorrow, host it on their own servers, and no one could say otherwise. That's a pretty fundamental difference.

          Say what you will about the iPhone as a sexy beast, etc, but as a developer platform and ecosystem, the only thing Android is missing is higher handset sales.

          • by samkass (174571) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:44PM (#29180933) Homepage Journal

            Android is a platform that give much more, and more meaningful, freedoms to app developers.

            Freedom? Yes. Friendliness? Not that I've seen, and you haven't cited a single piece of evidence towards "friendliness", just "freedom".

            It's really, really easy to get started with iPhone development. You pay Apple a small fee and get access to piles and piles of sample code, great documentation, a mature API, and you even get 2 support incidents in which you get to interact with a real Apple developer for your money. And now there's an ecosystem of developer forums, third-party libraries, articles, server/ad services, marketing support... it's actually a pretty friendly experience. It's true that Apple gets veto power, but even then the rejection letter is friendly :)

            • by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:45PM (#29181475) Homepage Journal

              It's really, really easy to get started with iPhone development. You pay Apple a small fee and get access to piles and piles of sample code, great documentation, a mature API, and you even get 2 support incidents in which you get to interact with a real Apple developer for your money.

              With Android, you get access to piles and piles of code without having to pay anyone. Want to know how the default music player works? Just look at the source code. Good luck finding the source to the iPhone's music player.

              If you want to interact with a real Android developer, just post on the newsgroups or find them on IRC. Again, it's free.

              I haven't done iPhone development, so I can't comment on the relative quality of Android's documentation or API, but they seem fine to me.

            • by Builder (103701) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:18PM (#29181759)

              Hi there... Part of your comment is a bit misleading... you say:

              "You pay Apple a small fee and get access to piles and piles of sample code, great documentation, a mature API"

              Well, yeah, I guess you could go that route.

              OR - you could sign up for the FREE account, get the SDK, get all that great documentation, get the mature API and get a fantastic emulator to test in.

              When, and ONLY when you're ready to test on physical hardware, you can pay Apple just under $100 and get the ability to deploy to hardware and release to the store. But for all your getting started steps, you don't have to spend 1c more than it costs to start with Android.

          • by sjbe (173966)

            What part of "don't have to pay Apple money to develop for Android" and "don't have to get Apple's permission to distribute" did you not understand?

            Free (as in beer) is nice but that doesn't prove "friendliness" or the lack of it. Being cheap doesn't cause something to be of good quality or well designed or well documented. It's not hard to find crappy software and being free doesn't make it less crappy.

            As for needing permission to distribute, that is potentially annoying I'll grant you though to be fair it's not without some benefit to both developers and users. It has the potential to keep a lot of bad software and (probably) malware out of the pl

          • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @03:51AM (#29183281)

            That you used the words "iPhone-themed app suite" says it all to me. GUIs are not just about aesthetic visual themes. They effect the design of the application. If Apple just released a themed iPhone app for Android, it would be like the difference between iTunes for Windows and the native Mac version.

            As someone considering developing for the iPhone, it has more features that appeal to me, plus it fits in really well with the fact that I run OS X (and enjoy it) so I can develop using xCode, which seems like a really good development environment.

            I think they're missing more than handset sales. I think they would benefit by having stricter design specs, or at least take more of a lead to show the hardware manufactures what needs to happen. Apple often leads in hardware because it also develops software so they have a better understanding of the relationship between the two when it comes to designing them.

        • by sammyF70 (1154563) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:17PM (#29181213) Homepage Journal
          Factors that are friendly to developers :
          • the developer fee is $25 ONCE
          • there is no review of your application and when you publish it, it's on the Android Market right away
          • Applications are written in Java, which means you can develop on any platform you like in a language that's not OSX specific
          • the SDK integrates nicely in Eclipse, which means you can have a ~nice~ (debatable I know) IDE for free
          • the documentation is (contrary to what other said) quite good and the #android-dev IRC channel on freenode provides great help

          Sadly, Android suffers from

          • an incredibly bad Market, with one of the worst search engine ever written (a regular joke on #android is whether Google should ask Microsoft or Yahoo for a better search engine), and virtually no useful feedback mechanism for developers. This results in developers pushing fake updates just to make users aware that their applications exist, and comments like "sucks. crashes" littering the market (with no way to know which version actually crashed, nor to ask the user who posted the comment why/how/where the application crashed
          • 24 hours refund even for 99c applications who have demo versions available and virtually no copyright protection. When you first get a ORDER/REFUND" cycle of less than 4mn on one of your applications, you get angry. The angriness just transforms into fatalistic depression after the tenth. Similarly, with games, when refunds is asked after 23 hours, you can't help but ask yourself what exactly, in terms of gameplay, users expected from a 99c game. (this is especially infuriating when the game has high replay value, but can be finished the first time around in a few hours)
          • Non-homogeneous hardware. You're supposed to write your applications so that they can run on vritually any display resolution, with or without trackball, hardware keyboard, and whatnot. Add to that the fact that the T-Mobile G1 is quite underpowered for graphically intensive applications and that that's probably what you're using to develop and the range of stuff you can do shrinks greatly.
          • Android applications are writen in Java, with the shortcomings this brings with it (anybody want to write a game and see how the GC kills the framerate by processing stuff that has nothing to do with your application? it's *really* fun)
          • So .. all in all, yes, it's far friendlier to developers, but it's also a highly frustrating platform to develop for.

    • I imagine that Google will have a much more lenient application 'store' or method of downloading applications to your phone. As Apple recently blocked Google's Talk application, I doubt Android would do this.

      Given Google's history, their record is pretty developer friendly:

      • Google Wave is open, including the source
      • Google Maps
      • Chrome/Chromium
      • Homepage
      • Gadgets (whatever Google calls it)

      While it might not hold much weight for a business to say it but there is also 'do no evil'.

    • Re:Citation needed (Score:5, Informative)

      by jelizondo (183861) * <[jerry.elizondo] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:25PM (#29180247)

      As I mentioned in my previous comment, the "friendlier" to developers is really that it is open source, that you can use open source tools (Eclipse, Ant, etc.) for development, but that's all folks! as the good bunny said.

      Documentation sucks, most of developers are outside the U.S. (from my experience mainly India and Pakistan) where they can't get a developer's phone, the emulator is fine except that it can't emulate making calls or receiving them, etc. etc.

      It is "friendlier" in a sense but like the Apple of old days (i.e. early 80's), when you could get real support, real docs and real machines to develop apps.

      Someone needs to get behind developers' support right away!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by josteos (455905)

      I found Android to be a great platform to develop on. The biggest hurdle was using Eclipse after being a Win32/Visual Studio dev for 10 years.

      I was attracted to it by the lower cost of entry (I didn't have to buy an apple!) and the lack of a GateKeeper at the app store. The pleasant development framework was an added bonus. The smaller user population isn't as cool right now, but I haven't invested so much into it that I can't afford to wait while the market grows.

    • Lets see here, I don't need to buy a Mac and can continue to use my 2 year old computer for development, I also don't need to pay $99 to be able to publish my own apps, I don't need to wade through an "approval" process, basically there is no financial hindrance for people. I'd like to develop for the iPhone sometimes but I don't want to spend $700 minimum for a bit of small income, on the other hand, I can continue using existing materials and develop for Android. But the biggest reason why Android is goin
  • Even though there are a lot of Android handsets out they are all for... T-Mobile. Now, while T-Mobile is great for talking and texting and they have decent coverage and are GSM they have a fatal flaw, a lack of a 3G network. Ok, in larger cities you can get 3G just fine, but in a medium sized town? No 3G, AT&T has 3G there on the other hand. Similarly, they could have made the phones unlocked so you could use it on a different network, however they didn't. While AT&T is no saint when it comes to cel
  • by TimTucker (982832) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:16PM (#29180151) Homepage
    Signed up right away, got my Dev Phone 1 and then came the news that pretty much knocked most of the wind out of my sales when it came to development: Google announced that they were requiring developers to deal with collecting sales tax. I'd imagine that I'm not the only person wanting to write a few small apps in hopes of making a little extra income that was completely put off by the decision.
  • Well in Canada... (Score:4, Informative)

    by seifried (12921) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:18PM (#29180177) Homepage
    No-one is selling the darn things (I've yet to see one in a store/cell phone kiosk). That could be part of the problem up here at least. If anyone knows where I can get one (in western Canada) please let me know, I'd love to be proven wrong.
    • by hidden (135234)

      Where are you? Here (Edmonton, AB) every rogers wireless ad features either the Dream (the g1) or the Magic

      Where can you get one? well...any rogers store.

  • Even T-mobile affiliates like iWireless (in Iowa) don't offer the G1 or myTouch. Google needs to stop relying on T-mobile and get Android phones as offerings from all national carriers. I'd love to get an android phone to replace my current sub-par MS 6.1 based HTC smartphone. Time to start flexing some muscle google!

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:18PM (#29180189)

    Wow, just stunning. If the lack of an idealized phone were the problem, WinMo wouldn't have anywhere near the marketshare it has. For Android to take over, one simple thing needs to happen - a wider selection of Android phones on a wider selection of providers, at a wide selection of price points.

  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:20PM (#29180205) Homepage

    Where is the market? AT&T has the iPhone, the phone. The one everyone wants to beat.

    Sprint has the Pre. It's a pretty decent phone with a few build quality issues. Once Palm gets a brain and starts letting apps come out, it could be pretty good.

    Verizon has... who knows. Standard Blackberries?

    And then there is little T-Mobile with.. Blackberries.

    I don't remember seeing many (any?) ads for the G1. I don't remember anyone talking about it except release day calling it "the google phone" when it's not Googly in any way. Basically, not many people care, because I don't think many people know about it. My boss has one, and it's quite nice. But it has no mindshare.

    Why should it? It doesn't have an amazing app store (like the iPhone). It doesn't have sexy hardware (like the iPhone or many imitators). It doesn't have an amazingly cheap price. There is nothing to stand out about it other than running "google OS". And since Android doesn't have a reputation yet, that doesn't sell phones.

    Great apps would help, but people won't build those until the thing is more popular. Better hardware would help a little so it doesn't look so blocky (the G2 should help here).

    Microsoft has this same problem. When Apple wants the hardware to do something, it builds it. When Microsoft wants it, they push and prod and within a few years it happens. Dell (et all) don't make sexy computers, or at least didn't start until after years of Apple taking the "good looking" market.

    Android could be something great, even if it takes the "low end smartphone" market. But it could take years to get there, and companies may not be willing to wait that long. If Google had taken some of the risk and co-developed a phone (a Honda or Acura to Apple's BMW, instead of the Ford Focus we got) Android could be in a better spot.

    But the Pre is the weakest right now, in my eyes. They've had months and released almost no apps. You know what they just released in the last week or two? Out of the 4 or 5 apps, two were to help people with Jewish observances. Not exactly "phone moving" applications. Floodgates may not open until Christmas or later, and without some lower-level stuff there might not be good games. Some strong funded development in apps and some marketing could really help Android. More phones certainly would.

    The question is, will this be the next DOS/Windows (good enough, builds up to dominance), or OS/2 (better than the common, but never achieves critical mass and becomes irrelevant)?

    How about a series of ads showing how easy it is to navigate/use the phone, compared to the nightmare of a UI that Blackberries use? Aim for that market. Aim for consumers (not necessarily businesses) who want a smartphone, but don't want and iPod.

    Of course, I wouldn't want to fight against a $99 iPhone. The only reason that thing hasn't destroyed the market is it's tied to AT&T.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by virtualXTC (609488)

      Why should it? It doesn't have an amazing app store (like the iPhone). It doesn't have sexy hardware (like the iPhone or many imitators). It doesn't have an amazingly cheap price. There is nothing to stand out about it other than running "google OS". And since Android doesn't have a reputation yet, that doesn't sell phones.

      Great apps would help, but people won't build those until the thing is more popular. Better hardware would help a little so it doesn't look so blocky (the G2 should help here).....

      Of course, I wouldn't want to fight against a $99 iPhone....

      Err, have you checked the android app store [android.com] lately? Does you iphone have turn-by-turn directions? Can you i-phone be used as a metal-detector? Did you iphone come with copy-and-paste enabled? Can your iphone use google voice? How much do your iphone apps add to the total cost of your phone? I've yet to have to pay for an andriod app, but did dump some money toward andnav2. Is there anything even close to Enkin for iPhone?

      There is nothing wrong with the hardware; pictures / advertisements of the An

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quacking duck (607555)

        Err, have you checked the android app store [android.com] lately? Does you iphone have turn-by-turn directions?

        Yes. I don't use them but Tom-Tom and smaller (cheaper) options are available. xGPS is also available for jailbroken iPhones.

        Can you i-phone be used as a metal-detector?

        Yes. The latest 3GS has an internal compass, and apps exist to use it as a metal detector

        Did you iphone come with copy-and-paste enabled?

        Yes - as of mid-June this year.

        Can your iphone use google voice?

        Finally, the first no (officially, anyway)

        How much do your iphone apps add to the total cost of your phone?

        Downloaded almost 200 apps, including games, traffic cameras, weather charts, fitness, stargazing, etc. Most are full and not demo/lite versions.

        Total cost: $2.

        (Apps like Pandora's Box and AppMiner are a godsend for tracking

  • We have known this for ages and we still act as if this is somehow surprising?

    Most Apple users believe they are somehow better than everyone else and that they are somehow elite because they own an Apple product. -1 Troll me if you like, but there are many people who truly believe that and one classic twitter posting complaining about the reduction in prices of Apple notebook computers really expresses what everyone else is afraid to admit -- that buying a particular brand of anything somehow says somethin

    • by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:05PM (#29180591) Journal

      that buying a particular brand of anything somehow says something about who they are.

      You are correct that buying a brand says nothing about who you are. But the substance of what you buy does indeed say quite a bit about your priorities. You seem to hold a greatly simplified view of the market and the forces that drive it: that all consumers buy only by brand and that none choose on merit. With the exception of you, obviously, the only one able to look past branding and make an educated decision.

      But, it appears that brands do indeed matter to you! You make a dismissal of Apple products based merely upon their popularity and trendy branding, with no mention of any objective shortcomings. Has it occurred to you that a certain subset of Apple's customers actually buy their products for superior usability? That a Harley Davidson rider may have comparison shopped and chosen a Harley based on its mechanical qualities?

      Brand identity is indeed one major force in the marketplace. But it's far from the only one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)

      I'm not going to argue that Apple doesn't market heavily and successfully, but I think there's ample evidence that Apple's success has more to do with just being the latest cool fad. Truckloads of iPods have been selling for something like 8 years now, they've sold over 200 million of the things. Everyone's got one, even my grandparents have a couple. Fads and fashion don't last that long, people are still buying them because they like them, and they like them because they're better than all of alternatives

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locutus (9039)
      "The power of marketing influence is great! But these Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak minded."

      but there are just SOOOOooooooo....... many of them. ;-)

      Ever notice who many emails from iPhone users still say "sent from my iPhone"? They've no clue that the default signature is set to that and they just keep going on with it.

      LoB
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by abigor (540274)

      Well, for once you are certainly living up to your username (I usually like your posts a lot).

      I write code that deploys on Unix of whatever pedigree (right now, embedded Linux). For those of us who need a nice gui that does all the corporate stuff, plus a proper Unix, OS X is quite frankly a godsend. The fact that it runs on beautifully constructed hardware is a nice bonus.

      I've barely ever even paid attention to the cost - why bother? Amortised out over five or so years, all laptops are dirt cheap.

      Anyway, e

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:31PM (#29180299)

    We've spent a lot of the past 6 months optimizing a mobile version of our website & ecommerce systems as well as developing native apps for the iPhone and Blackberry. I go around and test on anyone with a smartphone I see. And I've yet to meet a single person with a G1 or MyTouch.

  • Features... (Score:2, Insightful)

    features that far surpass those of Apple's device,

    Tethering, VOIP, and Google Voice alone would far outpace the iPhones selection of farts and beer glass pouring apps.

  • by Hohlraum (135212) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:31PM (#29180305) Homepage

    I'm so sick of people making number comparisons between similar technologies that were released sometimes YEARS earlier than the others.

  • For the most part, I consider the HTC Hero the first Android phone worth owning because it looks pleasing to use. That's what the iPhone was successful. The G1 looks like a god awful brick and the myTouch 3G is only a slight improvement on that. People buy phones to make a statement, and just wanting to support open source doesn't get a lot of "normal" people onto the platform. I think Android will change for the better once Sprint gets the HTC Hero on it's network.
  • ...but I wasn't about to change services just to get one. I have AT&T Wireless, and have been in the market for several years now for an upgrade. I've waited and waited for an Android phone to become available, but nothing ever came my way. So, I've settled for a Nokia E71x, which isn't my ideal phone, but it certainly beats the vaporware that is Android on AT&T Wireless.

  • I was interested in a new smart phone and did a comparison between the MyTouch and the iPhone by playing around with each for about 15 minutes in a store. I wanted to like the MyTouch, but overall the iPhone experience was much nicer when playing with all the Apps. But one thing that really got me (and my older eyes) was that the iPhones screen (and hence icons) were much larger than the MyTouch - so it was a no brainer if I wanted to be able to see things on the phone. However in the end I still couldn'
  • I have a G1 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:39PM (#29180381) Homepage Journal
    And for me, it's far better than an iPhone would ever be. Why, because it syncs to my Google Apps for your domain account, so I can access emails on my phone in a very efficient manner, because I have an app which throws texts back the other way so I can read them on my PC, because it does everything I want from a phone extremely well, and more. Oh, and a qwerty keyboard helps a lot too.
  • Citation needed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mjwx (966435) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:42PM (#29180407)
    HTC's Dream and Magic are selling better then expected.

    It was never Google's or HTC's plan to take the market by storm, they intended to bleed Android in slowly rather then try to shove it at everyone at once a la Apple.

    The Android market growth is slow, but steady. Comparing Google Android to Apple iphone is like comparing the tortoise to the hare. Android has only been released for a bit over 9 months, Google is following its standard MO, release slowly and improve just like it does with all of its services (Gmail for example). Google is simply not rushing to market. In the 9 months that Android has been released we've had two updates 1.1 and 1.5 (which added a heap of functionality).

    Android will continue to grow as more handsets are released for it. It's a fair point that the HTC hardware could be better (it's not that bad either) but compared with the gen 1 iphone the gen 1 Android phone (HTC Dream) is far superior and HTC failure and DOA rate is far lower then that of Apple (this is why HTC phones are so expensive). Android is a good OS and it's usage will continue to grow. HTC have released their third phone (HTC Hero), just not in the states, Motarola have 2 on the way ("Sholes" and "Morrison") and Sony has 1 (Xpeira "Rachel") which looks to be the best HW yet for Android. After 5 minutes of using my android phone I realised that it wasn't competing with the Iphone, Google is targeting WinMo and has every chance of supplanting WinMo if development continues at it's current breakneck pace.

    As for a "killer app", it's called flash and is coming in Donut.
  • This is an easy one.

    The only person to ever see my phone and know what it was just happened to be another G1 owner. Not another soul knew in nearly a year now. Instead I was met with, "What is that?"
  • Little Premature (Score:2, Insightful)

    by javacowboy (222023)

    Let's wait until the end of the year to declare Android dead. After all, there are (as far as I know) only three Android phones being sold in the U.S. right now, with far more announced for sale before the end of the year:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_android#Forthcoming [wikipedia.org]

    Also, the U.S. isn't the only market for mobile phones. There's also Europe and the Far East.

    HTC, the seller of 80% of Windows Mobile phones, was the first provider to start selling Android phones.

    What's likely to happen is that, sin

  • Android T Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by axx (1000412) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:54PM (#29180505) Homepage

    Reading the comments I got the feeling I was reading a 9 months old article, I actually went to check the date on comments a few times.

    Might I remind you that Android handsets have been released around the world, not only in the USA.

    In France for instance, the HTCMagic (the G2 I believe) had advertisement in the metro and was labeled as a Google Phone (it's the Android name that doesn't pushed get out there, not the Google name). In Australia there are also ads for the same phone in phone shops.
    Also, they are about 4 phones available right now running android (HTCDream, Magic, Hero and Samsung Galaxy).
    Always going back to the T Mobile G1 is a little backwards looking and sort of like complaining about how the iPhone 1 doesn't have 3G.

    The HTC Hero has an entirely revamped UI for instance, so things are also evolving outside the hood as well as under (even if the Hero's hardware admittedly isn't good enough and not future-proof).

    So although I agree that Android lacks a killer app and the I want one factor that the iPhone has, saying that Android has problems because T Mobile's network sucks is really USA-centric.
    From the different reports we've seen, the Magic has sold a million units since it was released in May. Now we're nowhere near iPhone numbers, but it isn't exactly a failure commercially speaking.

    Considering another 15 or so phones running Android should come out before the end of the year (probably quite a few Samsungs, at least one Sony-Ericsson and some more HTCs), Android is gearing up.

    I'm not saying it doesn't need a whole lot more marketing, a lot more see how easy it is to do this on Android type ads on TV to explain to non tech-savvy people why it's good, better form factors and gadget lust or some unified branding to avoid having a same phone have 5 different names, but it's nowhere near the catastrophe some seem to see it as. As someone said, it's going to gain momentum slowly, not become the next big thing overnight.

  • Too Slow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:25PM (#29180759)

    Developer Friendly? Not, I spent some time a few months ago trying to port one of my games to the G1. The game requires some fairly heavy physics, it runs
    blistering fast on the the iphone. The G1 however just is not up to the task, face it the IPhone is just a much better performing device. When it comes
    to squeezing performance out of these tiny devices get java out of my way, I need to be able to program against the metal.

  • ActiveSync support? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TurtleBlue (202905) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:03PM (#29181065)

    Seriously - this is the only firm requirement my employer had - "We have an exchange mail system, and we'll buy you any mobile device you want - so long as it can use ActiveSync." We were poised to use Android OS phones because iPhones were thought of as toys - with the exception of Exchange we're still mostly a *nix shop - but that one caveat changed the purchase of all our mobile devices.

    I had high hopes after seeing the HTC Magic demos, but it turns out that was all smoke and mirrors [cnet.com]. Trying to explain to my senior management that "it's a google phone but not really but it still has android but I'm not sure it's supported we'll see they bought the license" vs. "yes, the iPhone has ActiveSync capability" - guess who won?

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:05PM (#29181091)

    It could be that the market for smartphones is just saturated right now. Google is coming late to a market where nearly everyone who wanted something like this already has either an iPhone or a Blackberry. Everyone else -- and that would be the vast majority of the population -- just wants a phone to make and receive phone calls and, below a certain age, send text messages, so the extra cost for a smartphone is a non-starter. The situation isn't likely to change until someone comes up with something much, much better than an iPhone. Merely being as good as an iPhone is not enough.

    It's also worth considering that there is some element of a fad or fashion craze in this situation, too. What was the next big thing after the hula hoop? It sure wasn't a better hula hoop.

  • The API sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gunark (227527) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:40PM (#29181445)

    The honest truth is, the Android API sucks. You're given the worst of both worlds -- doing simple things (like storing simple application settings) is tedious and awkward -- but neither are the tools powerful enough to do anything interesting.

    As a developer, I found the whole experience of building apps for Android extremely disappointing. The potential is there, and it shines through in (for example) the Eclipse-based IDE tools, but the API itself absolutely sucks. Why is there no built in abstraction layer for persisting data? I have to manually create SQL databases and write SQL queries just to retrieve a simple application setting? Seriously??

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:01AM (#29182097)

    The hardware is lacking, thus far. The best part of android is that anyone can make a phone with their OS. The worst part is that ANYONE can make a phone with their OS.

  • by Fizzl (209397) <{ten.lzzif} {ta} {lzzif}> on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:08AM (#29182143) Homepage Journal

    I was through design, specs and had implemented IPC and task control for my application, when I decided to have a look at the Android app store. I paid the $25 to get my rights to publish. Curiously I CANNOT CHARGE FOR MY APPS! Android store only supports google checkout as mediator for the money. And google checkout merchant accounts are not available in my country.
    So what to do? Basically, according to the help docs, twiddle my thumbs untill they make checkout available in Finland. I wonder if Google knows how big mobile development is here? Because of our pride in Nokia, pretty much every coder has some kind of experience in Symbian development. And thus, basic understanding of mobile development.

    Well, to get some feeling of the engine room, I started researching the lower part of the Android stack while I wait.

  • by endus (698588) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:00AM (#29182429)

    The truth is we really don't know how Android is going to do, because there are hardly any Android phones on the market. Supposedly there are quite a few coming, but we'll see whether they actually materialize or not.

    The real problem with Android, though, was the launch. They released an incomplete OS with no real application support on one phone on one second rate carrier. Then there was nothing. No new phones, no new carriers...nothing. Google should have waited until the OS was done and they could get at least two or three hardware manufacturers on board to release phones. There was plenty of buzz over Android BEFORE it was released, but not after. They rushed it out the door in a package that not too many people were really interested in. Android could be the greatest mobile OS ever but who would know?

    I guess since it was google they figured we would all just fall at their feet. Either that or they figured they could roll it out on a shit carrier on one phone in order to work out the bugs. Keep it low profile so that anything that went wrong was just small deployment stuff...shaking the bugs out before the bigtime. Then, later on, start the full court press once it has a reputation good enough to get larger manufacturers for bigger carriers interested...and once they are sure they are delivering a solid product.

    To me it seems like they just wasted the Android buzz that they had before the launch though. If this was an OS that was really targeted at "regular" cell phones I would think that their strategy was good...but this is an OS for smart phones which are a premium product with an audience that wants what is hot and what is current. They took the buzz that seems like it is EVERYTHING in selling a product like this and pissed it away on an extremely limited market. IMHO Android's first deployment should be the 10(?) phones that are supposedly on the way now. We should have all been salivating all this time rather than saying "oh yea I have one friend who has one but I haven't really seen it".

  • by salesgeek (263995) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:08AM (#29184639) Homepage

    There are 16 Android powered handsets that remain to be launched in the next 60 days. This includes models from Motorola, LG, and Samsung. The author of the article simply had no freaking clue what he was talking about, and as a result, he's missed:

    * the G1 has 3% market share. Ummmmm..... that's a lot of handsets.
    * The primary limit isn't the "crappy hardware" - it's the crappy network (yes, T-Mobile, your network is crappy until Indianapolis has 3G). Actually it's very good hardware, and the only rub against it is onboard storage and battery life. $25 8GB micro SDs fix the storage issue nicely and you can actually *replace* the battery, a novel idea in 1932 that Apple should have noticed by now. Oh, the primary limit might be the #3 network in the US being the only channel to get an Android in the US?
    *Oh, there's also the little fact that THE CUSTOMER FOR HANDSETS IS NOT THE USER OF THE HANDSET IN THE US. The customer is THE CARRIER WHO RESELLS THE HANDSET. Openness is *not* in their financial interest, so class 3 Android (open w/Google Apps) is not in their interest. Fortunately, they see T Mobile retaining customers with the G1, and want some of that.

    Here's reality:

    * Android to date has been a success.
    * The application base is built for future success.
    * 16 new devices are going to hit the market by the end of the year from some of the biggest names in mobile.
    * Android will be available on most carriers. The only question mark seems to be ATT, but they are rumored to have a Motorola handset out soon.
    * Android is going to turn the smartphone into the PC market of early 90s when Wintel at Apple's lunch. There are few people (and zero would be correct) that can argue that a PC clone was better than a Mac at the time, but Windows did allow hardware manufacturers to lower costs to offset Apple's considerable advantage in technology. Oh, and Android is *a lot* more formidable competitor than Windows 3.x was.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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