I wanted to post a brief follow-up to the Advisory Board Assignment from a couple days back about Android. First, a GIANT THANK YOU to everyone for all of your insightful and well thought our replies. You really provided some amazing feedback – you guys never cease to amaze me with the great stuff you post. So again, Thank You! And feel free to keep posting if you have more ideas.
To get my current thoughts and some feedback, read on after the jump!
Android: The Operating System
Android is a compelling platform, and it is pretty clear that it definitely has its supporters. It does a lot of things really well, in some cases better than the competition. It also has a lot of potential. Like all devices it has its foibles (512 MB? In this day and age?) but every device has its problems. I’m still not convinced that this device will appeal to the larger consumer base the way iPhone does, but it certainly seems a good fit for more technologically oriented users.
Bottom Line: It’s a very good OS, especially for technologically oriented folks, and might be able to capture the interest of the general public.
Android: A Development Environment
As a platform to develop for, it offers a ton of great opportunities. There are some really neat things we could do with this device. On the other hand, the pitfalls of an overly open system that we’ve experienced first hand with mobile devices in the past remain. I am not sure that these dangers are enough to stop us, but I think people underestimate the amount of frustration they’ll feel if, thanks to massive variation between devices, the software doesn’t work the same on every Android and/or won’t work at all on their device. This will likely happen to some extent.
Bottom Line: It has some great tools for developers, but the openness of the system could come back to haunt us.
Android: Market Penetration
I think it’s likely that Android will achieve pretty strong market penetration as time goes on. The reality, however, is that in a year since its release and all the associated hype, this hasn’t happened. No matter the “whys” of it, the fact is that it hasn’t achieved the heavy adoption people expected. This might simply be a matter of “needs more time/better devices” but based on history, it also might be a matter of “Tech people love it but the general public isn’t sold.”
Bottom Line: One way or another, I think we’ll end up seeing a respectable number of Android devices – enough penetration that it could support a decent base for an application.
Android: As a (Third Party) App Phone
I have no doubts about the Android as an “App Phone” since Google is sure to fully outfit it with incredibly awesome software. What I remain unsure of is whether people really will adopt it as an App Phone for third party applications in the way they have the iPhone today or the Palm/WinMo in the past. This is immensely important to us. As much as we appreciate and need our existing customer base, new customers make up the majority of our annual income. That’s the reality of the business. When we adopt a platform we need it to bring in new customers.
Bottom Line: The jury is still out. We know our existing customers are ready and willing to get our products for their new Android phones. We just aren’t sure how many Android folks who don’t already use our apps will go out and buy them. This is true on any platform, but the weak showing of the Android App Store to date makes use leery.
The Very Bottom Line
What does all this mean? It means that I’m feeling stronger about the Android as a good software market. Many of my concerns remain, but based on new information and your feedback, I’m less unsure than I was. If nothing else, I really hate to see all of our long time Windows Mobile users forced to go out and use an inferior product.
“Blah blah blah – Will there be a version of eWallet for Android, and when will it be out?”
Sorry. These are two questions I’m not going to touch. We learned *cough**mac**cough* the dangers of prematurely announcing our plans. And even if we started an Android version tomorrow, it’d be a good 6 months before you’d see it. As most of you know, we’re not hiring teams of underpaid overseas contractors to churn out our stuff – it’s all handcrafted in-house by a handful of the best developers in the biz. The result is top notch quality, but it does take time.
So there you go – you’ve definitely swayed me and we’ll be sure to keep you appraised of any new developments! Thanks again for all of your input!