Is Android Un-Lutheran?

by byamabe on August 25, 2010

The answer is, of course, no? I won’t bring up the “A” word, but the choice of handset operating system is neither commanded nor prohibited in Scripture. In fact, at the LCMS National Convention I ran into plenty of pastors with Android phones. And, yes, even I, a qualified “Apple Fanboy” have an Android phone (HTC Hero).

So why aren’t Concordia Publishing House (CPH) and others (myself included) writing apps for the Android? I’ve seen plenty of requests on FaceBook and Twitter asking for apps to be written for Android. So there is most certainly a need to be filled. Well, I won’t presume to speak for CPH, but I think I can shed some light on their thought processes as I explain my rationales.

Allocation of Resources

Every developer has a limited number of resources so has to decide what platform(s) to develop for. In the case of iOS vs Android the installed base of iOS devices more than doubles Android devices in the US and is almost 4x the number worldwide (intomobile). In addition to that, amount people spend on iOS apps dwarfs what people spend on Android apps (GigaOm). Based on these simple numbers it’s quite easy to choose what platform to develop for.

Ease of Development

I’ve done some cursory research into Android development and it is not very developer friendly at this point. UI layout is done in XML (text) files. Just think of trying to arrange your living room furniture by writing down the coordinates of your sofa, TV, etc. Also the number of widgets available for free is rather limited. Think wood crate furniture with anything more sophisticated needing to be hand crafted. The current state of Android development is like stuff I was doing 10+ years ago.

Things are Changing

But Android has some positives. It is gaining is popularity and had greater unit shipments than the iPhone in Q2 2010 (ZDNet) and App Inventor and Google’s developer friendliness will surely make the development situation better.

Somethings Won’t

That being said, Google is unlikely to do anything that would improve the market for apps. Why? Because Google isn’t in the business of selling apps, Google is in the business of selling ads. They want apps to embed ads as the mechanism for monetization. Additionally, Google hasn’t been able to address piracy on Android devices (AndroidHeadlines). They actually don’t have any incentives to put much effort in anti-piracy. If piracy is rampant, then the only way for developers to make money is to embed ads.

Like I said, I won’t presume to speak for CPH, but it is quite clear to me that now and into the near future developing for the iOS is the platform to develop for if you have limited resources and want to try to make money by selling your apps.

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