ComScore recently reported Google Android is now running on 7.1% of smart phones today – that marks a 4% rise in share in less than five months. Not bad. But, Howe says Android still has its challenges. “The real issue is you’ve got to follow the money and where it is being made,” said Howe. “Their (Android) installed base is not as large as people may imagine, and it’s not a business play, yet.”
Android development can be challenging because of the fragmented nature of the market. Service providers and application developers must decide which one of the several Android versions to support and on what devices. Howe says to achieve a high-level of performance and usability, developers must ensure their software is flexible.
Howe points to some good parts of Google’s Android story, too. Howe thinks the 20,000 apps in the Android market is a good start for Android and, the varied selection will drive more interest in the operating system.
Howe says, coupled with the consumerization of IT and Microsoft’s waning market share, enterprises will increasingly need to support every mobile operating system. The delay of Windows Phone Series 7 leaves a gaping hole in the mobile OS market for the next 7-8 months, and no doubt, the search giant-along with Apple and RIM-will attempt to step in and eat up some of that share.
Howe says, Android developers need to make sure the application is of high quality, and not just functional. “Apple has raised the bar on what is acceptable and people that are developing for Android need to keep up,” says Howe.
20,000 apps might not seem a lot compared to Apple’s store, but it’s enough to get lost. “Market your app and don’t just throw it in the app store,” says Howe.Posting free versions of business applications that serve as free trials or limited functionality applications are great entry points for revenue. DataViz, creator of DocumentsToGo has seen substantial success with this strategy.
Google does not have a strict preview and certification process, by design. That has its advantages and disadvantages. Howe predicts that there is a “gotcha” coming-malware. Howe says the lack of a strict process lets people inserts apps into the store that do very bad things. Be prepared that if malware apps become pervasive on Android, users may balk and walk.