Is the Android Un-Lutheran?
Mr. Brian Yamabe, a fellow LCMS Lutheran, put up a post on his blog “Vocation in the Valley: Life Under the Cross” yesterday that I found very helpful and well put. Whenever I mention the Apple iPhone app marketplace, I get, understandably, a number of inquiries from Android uses asking if/when we will be releasing Android-friendly apps. Some ask nicely, some make blanket accusations, some get downright angry and say some pretty silly things. Well, Mr. Yamabe is a professional in the field and his blog post explaining why the Apple app market is, at this point, the place to be, offers very helpful insights. Let me assure you that CPH is monitoring all these developments very, very closely. We have a full time staff in our Emerging Products department who stays abreast of all the latest technological developments. We have not slammed the door shut on Android, but at this point, for the reasons Mr. Yamabe identifies below, we are devoting our work to the Apple app marketplace.We will continue to monitor the Android market and if/when we can devote resources to Android app development, we certainly will.
Here is his post:
Is Android Un-Lutheran?
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.
Some Things 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.