The new iPhone is cheap, the new iPhone is sexy and — most important to developers looking it as a platform – the new iPhone has a built-in store that could generate more than $1 billion next year. Compare that to Google’s Android mobile OS, which doesn’t have a formal launch date, or the backing of one of the world’s best marketers. And it doesn’t yet have a built-in method of promoting and retailing applications.
So you’d think you’d see a rush of developers dropping their Android projects to get on the the Apple bandwagon. But based on conversations we’ve been having with developers, it doesn’t look like that’s happening. Why not? Android guys tell us it’s mostly three reasons:
- The language gap: Android apps are built in Java, iPhone apps are built on Objective-C. One Android developer we talked to said that he would switch to the iPhone, but he doesn’t know Objective-C, and neither do any of the other developers at his company. Other Android developers who know the language don’t like it, saying that it doesn’t have the speed and flexibility of Java.
- The walled garden: Apple is tightly controlling what apps end up in its app store. It’s deciding which ones get prime virtual shelf space, and it will set rules about pricing, file size and content (no “Adult” games). On the flip side, Android is completely open — there are virtually no requirements on what you can or can’t do with Android applications. On Android, the third-party apps have as much power as the phone’s core applications, meaning you can build an app that will switch out the home screen, change the style of the dialer, etc.
- The money on the table: Google has already given away $1.25 million in first round of the first phase of the Android Developer Challenge. That means that there’s $8.75 million left on the table. The developers we heard from said that they’re busy working on the next round, and while they may think about the iPhone in the future, they’re concentrating on Android — and the upfront case — for now.
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