Personally, I wish I wasn't asked to write anything about Android. I tend to be more interested in technology the consumer is actually waiting for, rather than announcements that are simply hyped by this huge corporation. But I’ve been surprised by Google a couple of times. First, Chrome on Windows. Next, Chrome on Android. I can summarize my surprise as follows, "Google, Apple work towards mobile content platform homogeneity!" Now, we have something to blog about.
In the very fragmented mobile space the amount of development platforms that developers are recruited to use has always been a problem. There are enough mobile operating systems and mobile device models to keep a small army of developers busy with simply porting code for one device to another. Having been involved in those types of projects, I can say that the porting ends up being a very large part of the cost of the whole production. --end rant--
Let me clarify my observation. The iPhone web applications that we have developed run as good on Chrome as they do on the Safari iPhone browser. Both browsers use the WebKit browser engine. And, both Chrome and iPhone Safari can provide solid ways to bring important features to these web apps. For example: off-line browsing, AJAX, and rich media. If you look back at mobile technologies over the past eight years you won’t find this “accidental” agreement between phone platforms happened very often.
To repeat myself, I'm not someone that's anticipating HTC's Dream T-Mobile announcement. In fact, I'm almost more interested in when the next Android based phone is launched after the Dream. As a company that mobilizes and monetizes mobile content, we like to see real numbers on consumer adoption – not predictions. As far as we can tell, we'll be waiting on adoption of Android by consumers for a while.
So how important is Chrome on Android? I believe it is very significant to see a next generation web application capability which is similar on all new and popular mobile devices. It is important both for the successful distribution of content to a wide audience and for the development of a powerful advertising channel to monetize that content. Google ... Ads ... Anyone?
Crisp Wireless has created SDK based downloadable applications and web applications for a long time and we believe the content publishers who work with us, have seen much more benefit and revenue out of web applications than the downloadable applications. Google gets that. It is no wonder they look to build on top of the iPhone's success rather than to fragment the mobile internet.
I recently had a chance to download Apple’s new iPhone SDK that enables developers to write downloadable applications that will run on the Apple iPhone 2.0 starting in June or July. I’ve read the feedback from developers, journalists, and bloggers and there are a fair amount of people slamming Apple because of how they are looking to control the distribution and how you supposedly need to pay for getting full access to all development materials.
Well, I don’t find that to be the case. Development for iPhone appears to be free until you want to load the application on a real phone. (This is not unlike other mobile development in BREW or Java ME.) Instead, what I found is a smartly managed development program for a market leading distribution system (iTunes). Everyone that thinks Apple is getting it wrong by controlling application sales must not have learned the history of mobile application distribution including the platform fragmentation, network security problems and the mobile operator’s difficulty in enabling discovery and sales for downloadable applications. Apple will make sure there is little fragmentation, make it easy to sell outside of carriers, and build a reputation on number of apps available and the safety of downloading.It is possible the opposite will happen with Android, where the multiple manufacturers with approved Android distributions could be fragmenting capabilities and the more open nature of the platform could turn out to be a security risk. Besides, who is going to apply a GUI on Android that the consumer prefers over the iPhone interface? I’m sure someone’s still working on that.
With the iPhone starting to be sold worldwide in an unlocked version and the completion of their application distribution model, there will be a tipping point this summer where analysts might consider Android too late to outdo Apple. The potential iPhone sales are extremely high, due in small part to the unexpected effort Apple put in making the device more enterprise friendly. The touch screen can still be a limitation for the email user but the factor of MS Exchange integration and running custom secure touch screen enterprise apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch via WiFi does make the platform a viable alternative to Windows Mobile.
This means that more and more publishers will begin wanting iPhone specific sites to address this expanding market and capitalize on the user interface. We’ve already seen this happening with our existing customer base and you will begin to see more news from Crisp about this shortly.