Not only is the Android Market an open platform for developers (with no approval process, ala the App Store), but now we’ll likely see a vast array of specialized apps built by non-developers. This could radically increase the volume of apps in the Market versus the App Store.
I’ve written about Google’s seeming goal of getting mobile devices on the web instead of running local apps. I outlined some things that could keep Android app quality relatively low:
- Fragmentation – Minimal app compatibility, or a lowest common denominator app that can’t take full advantage of a device.
- Lack of vetting – Lets weak apps through, including potential security risks.
- Flash support – Another way of encouraging lowest common denominator apps.
I wrote “In short, while appearing to do all they can to let as many apps be available as possible, they’ve created a platform to breed lower-quality, inconsistent apps”
If there was any doubt about Google’s desire to have lots of apps while keeping the app experience relatively weak, their latest move should make it clear: they’re letting anyone write apps.
Google’s App Inventor is like a late-night informercial: “Why bother learning a language and coding techniques, now anyone can be a developer with the Develop-O-Matic.” I can see the infomercial endorsements now: “I was skeptical, but I just followed the simple steps provided. As a programmer I make more money each month than I ever dreamed of, and was able to quit my job snaking toilets at Wal-Mart. If I can do it, so can you!”
With everybody and their little brother submitting apps there’s little question Android’s app count will make huge gains. It probably won’t take long before the number exceeds Apple’s App Store, which is something they’re gunning for. And with weak “competition” of local apps like this, Google’s web-based solutions will look that much better, which helps lead people right where Google wants them.
I have no issue with lots of web and local apps; let everyone decide what works best for them. But what I see is Google poisoning the well from which local apps are drawn. They don’t appear to want a fair fight, and make local apps too difficult (their market place appears to be a mess), generic (soon to include Jr. Developer Kit apps), and risky (potential privacy or security issues) so web apps look far superior by comparison.