The State of the Appmosphere

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September 13, 2011

Currently there are over 250,000 android apps in Google Market Place, a number that will no doubt have almost doubled by the end of 2011. The Android platform is growing at the speed of light and may even overtake Apple’s ios platform any time soon. But do these facts equate to a unanimous success story?
The Android app market is riddled with problems that, if left unsolved, could eventually lead to an implosion that will leave this market in tatters. Developers have joined the Android app scene in droves, eager to build a reputation for themselves, on one of the most popular mobile platforms. The fact that it’s open source has also been a crowd puller, offering much more freedom to developers than closed platforms such as Apple ios and Windows. This is where the biggest problem lies.

Until recently, you were in danger of installing more than an app to your mobile, only if you visited third party/untrusted appstores, especially those based in China. As the first viruses became apparent, the vulnerability of Android was realised. More recently there have been the same issues in an unexpected place; Google Android Market, the default , and supposedly trusted place to download your apps. Google worked hard to put the problem right for those users that were unfortunately affected, only to find that the security tool they devised to combat the situation was then hijacked by a Trojan virus. Security is becoming paramount within the Android arena, as more and more virus threats are found and published on tech blogs on an almost daily basis. Apps designed to aid you with your banking have even been infected and have been able to steal banking details.

Although security apps such as Lookout Security & Antivirus have gone some way to alleviating this problem and restoring users trust, the fact remains that Android is vulnerable, and no android smartphone is safe. Google needs to step up its efforts and screen each and every app to a rigorous degree that appears in their market, just like Appstore does, and avoid a revolt from developers and users alike.

Then we come to monetization. Developers have struggled up until this point to earn enough dough from their ventures to afford bread and water. Many hours have been devoted to developing Android apps, only for the devlopers to realise that android users are unwilling to part with their cash and seem hellbent on installing only free android apps onto their phone. This is frustrating and not a viable career option for anybody of average wealth. It seems that there are numerous reasons why android users seem to avoid using their credit card.

Google CheckoutWhy should they android users pay for android apps when there’s sure to be a free equivalent? There is still no user-friendly way to pay (people seem to shy away from Google Checkout, myself included), although carriers are beginning to realise and offer in-bill payment, with Vodafone UK leading the way. If this way of paying for apps catches on, the problem of payment will be solved. Amazon also offer easier methods of payment, but this is of little significance to UK citizens as it is uncertain if they will see and Amazon appstore any time soon.

The fact remains however, that unlike Apple, where there are less free apps and users expect to pay for their apps (ipods helped to instill this mentality in Apple’s users), Android has a long way to go in moulding its users mindset. If all of these areas of contention aren’t dealt with hastily, app developers could pack their bags and take their talent elsewhere.

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