Google's Android - big name, big question on payment

Inside the mobile matrix, part 2

There are, though, two areas where developers should be concerned. The first is that with this much fanfare, publicity and the contest on top of it all, this platform may prove to be by far too popular among developers. While it is certainly a good thing for the platform to be popular, the intense competition might see developers experience difficulty differentiating applications from so many competing projects.

Few things have the potential to be as frustrating as working for months on a new application only to discover that another developer launched nearly the same application just a week or two before you finished development on yours.

Given the extremely high level of awareness that Android has generated among the developer community it seemed to me prudent to at least suggest this as a possibility.

The second area where I have questions, if not outright concerns, relates to that all-important financial piece of the puzzle. We all know how Google makes money: it gives services away in exchange for more opportunities to market to end users via contextual advertising. The question is, as a developer, how do you get paid?

Google isn't likely to pay for applications and there is a big question mark over whether the public - that have now been weaned on Google's free everything approach to services - will also pay. So are you going to get a percentage of the ad revenue, instead? That is possible, if your application is suited to delivering advertising in conjunction with people using your software, but what if that's not the case? What then? I wish I had the answer but I don't - in fact, nobody seems able to answer that at this point.

Overall, then, Android appears a logical choice for developers from the perspective of the openness of the platform and the fact it has the considerable weight of Google and a good spread of the mobile industry behind it. There are also certainly plenty of attractive reasons for wanting to take advantage of all the shiny new services that Google is trotting out.

The sticking point, though, remains revenue. I’d strongly advise any developer to get an answer to the question of how they get paid, before investing too much precious time building an application that everyone loves but - like a Las Vegas slot machine - never pays out.®

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