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Android's "Flea Market" Needs Urgent Attention 226

Posted by kdawson
from the step-down-from-a-bazaar dept.
andylim writes "According to Barry O'Neil, ex-President of Namco Bandai Network Europe, Google needs to understand that a constantly evolving 'beta' product doesn't cut it. It has to learn from the mistakes of the Java business in order to save Android. 'If Google is to present a threat to the Apple App Store ecosystem, it needs to address discovery and purchasing as a matter of urgency, or abandon control and hand over the entire management of the Android Market to carriers, OEMs and trusted publishers.'"
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Android's "Flea Market" Needs Urgent Attention

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  • I don't get it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ckaminski (82854) <ckaminski@DALIpobox.com minus painter> on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:42AM (#31707518) Homepage
    I use the Android app market, and I find what I need. I think the Apple App Store is more plagued with marketers vying for positioning in the vaunted "Top 75" than in any other fashion. How about letting me sort by "5 stars"? Anybody?

    I'm not sure I want anyone except the community "in charge" of what gets bubbled up in each category.
  • YES! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:42AM (#31707522) Homepage Journal

    I ahve sent several emails, and posted on the form.

    There online market SUCKS.

    I have a G1. it's running Google android OS. It is fully integrated with Google.

    Why can't I go to android.com and do a search for apps?
    Yes, a Google site and you can't search for market apps.

    http://www.android.com/market/ [android.com]

    Not searchable. I'm sorry, what is Google's core business?

  • Re:I don't get it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:44AM (#31707538) Homepage Journal

    http://www.android.com/market/ [android.com]

    You can't search for apps. You can on the phone, but consumers need better integration and ways to access information.

    Lets say you were interested in an Android device, how do you find out what apps are in the market?

  • You mean like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:45AM (#31707552)

    Google needs to understand that a constantly evolving 'beta' product doesn't cut it

    You mean like Gmail, Chrome, and a ton of other products that people use while in beta? Android's main strength is that it is open, cutting edge and changeable. A crappy interface or design on Windows Mobile is going to be slow to change, a crappy interface or design in Android is going to be quick to change.

    Don't want something -slightly- unstable? Get a BlackBerry and its outdated architecture. Want something that is going to be nearly the same from beginning to end? Get an iPhone, but don't expect stability.

    I had a Windows Mobile phone for a bit, it crashed so often I went back to my "dumb" phone before getting an Android handset that rarely crashes.

    Android is doing the most things right at the moment. Windows Mobile is screwing customers by not offering software upgrades, Apple is screwing customers by not allowing them to use their apps, BlackBerry simply is a crappy environment to code for, and despite how much Palm wants WebOS to gain marketshare, it simply isn't happening.

    Oh and never, ever allow OEMs, carriers or "trusted publishers" to take over app markets, otherwise you screw your customers even more. I don't want my carrier telling me what I can and can't have on my phone, same with OEMs and I don't want a "trusted publisher" removing all competition to their product.

  • Carriers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silas_moeckel (234313) <{silas} {at} {dsminc-corp.com}> on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:47AM (#31707564) Homepage

    Lets think about this, carriers love to nickle and dime you to death, hate anything that gets in the way of this, and only wish to allow enough function to sell stuff. The LAST thing the droid needs is the carriers getting involved. All I want from my carrier is fast reliable service. Some of my least technical friends have droids and after a few days of hating them they come to love them.

  • But some companies pretend they are not.

    But maybe the author is right, and evolving betas do fail. Like GMail, Firefox, Chrome, GNU/Linux, they were all public evolving betas, and they all failed. Ah, wait, they didn't They are very successful, and keep gaining market-share every day.

    Off course, other software that wasn't ever in public beta state, like Windows, Oracle, Photoshop, was successful. Ah, wait, they were Public betas too, just the companies behind them pretended they weren't. And they failed and succeeded at the same rate as the other more honest approaches.

    All software evolves, and all software goes through a very long Beta period. Changing the label doesn't really change anything.

  • Re:YES! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#31707606)
    Agreed. I keep thinking I'm doing something fundamentally wrong... I can search for apps on my Droid but I can't find a website that lets me search through the apps or browse the app categories. Apparently there are roughly 30,000 Android apps, but if you click around the marketplace [android.com], you'll get a sense that there's maybe 50 or 80 apps out there. This is both a problem for Android users (who can't find what they want... doing it on the phone is okay but not as efficient) and for uptake (it makes the platform look amateurish).

    On the flip side, though, I can't imagine a worse move than "hand over the entire management of the Android Market to carriers, OEMs and trusted publishers." The carriers would turn it into a painful nickel-and-dime opportunity (forget free apps!), and letting OEMs and publishers do whatever they want would make the Android platform even more fragmented. Google is (in theory) the right entity to mange the Android Market: they have a good reputation, they are really good at sorting and search, they know how to make a good web UI, etc. In fact, it's fundamentally surprising that they didn't put together a slick interface for the Android Market...
  • Community. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZenDragon (1205104) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#31707614)
    Allow sorting and filtering by rating. Problem solved. Let the community filter out the crap.
  • Re:Carriers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:53AM (#31707630)
    Exactly. How hard is it to provide decent data, voice and text communications? Stop trying to get phones and integrations and let customers buy their phones at other places and use their service. You know, for all the money Verizon and AT&T have spent in their dueling ad campaign I think they could buy and deploy several towers to actually give their customers decent service.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:54AM (#31707636) Homepage

    The Android market on the other hand is more about open source, freeware, rough around the edges apps that more technically savvy users can work with.

    Right you are! All of the handset makers using Android would just love to cater to a couple of thousand nerds who would rather spend an hour looking for a free solution than spend 5 minutes and 99 cents downloading a commercial one. Surely, those economic mavens rejoice at the pen-protector-and-taped-glasses set instead of the teenager with dad's credit care. A customer that thinks the best part of the day is installing some obscure patent free codec is worlds more important that somebody that wants to spend ten dollars and watch a movie.

    I find your ideas fascinating but definitely do not want to subscribe to your newsletter (besides, it's free - right?)

  • by DarkXale (1771414) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:54AM (#31707646)
    I think the biggest problem with the Android market at the moment is its somewhat limited availability. You can't purchase apps in Sweden for example, and there are quite a good number of Android users here. Naturally, thats also going to skew the numbers that the article is using. You can't expect Android phones to have the same number of apps-purchased-per-phone, when a large amount of phones don't actually have that access to begin with. I think thats the point that the article is trying to make, although it doesn't do a very good job at it.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:56AM (#31707656)

    ... and hand over the entire management of the Android Market to carriers, OEMs and trusted publishers.

    Wait, is this guy implying that carriers are to be trusted publisher? They have tighter sphinxes than Apple does - how would this help consumers reach applications when phones purchased via said carriers disable functions on the phones they resell, just to charge extra money to re-enable them? (e.g. charging extra monthly fees so that their consumers can use GPS on their phones- which does not require any interaction with the cell towers, let alone the phone company!)

  • Re:YES! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exley (221867) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:58AM (#31707688) Homepage

    I'm sorry, what is Google's core business?

    Advertising.

    (And no, I'm not referring to that Super Bowl ad!)

  • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catxk (1086945) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:01PM (#31707722)
    If you look at it from an Apple perspective, I guess you would think that the key to mobile OS success is a well-functioning software market. Android, apparently, does not have one. The fact that more and more phones run Android is no more a sign of success than the fact that the Ipad is sold out. Initial high sales indicates little more than successful marketing, but to ensure long-lasting success, the users also have to be satisfied after the purchase. Then again, this is from an Apple perspective. In my opinion (and I use an S60 device), the Android OS seems solid enough with or without an official marketplace.
  • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#31707804)

    You joke, but how successful have they been lately? I couldn't name any recent games, so I went to check their site. Almost every title listed in their 'new games' section is junk. The ones that aren't junk are just sequels to things that weren't junk... And there's not many of them. (And for some of them, I don't think they held the rights to the originals.)

    So he's going to tell a massively successful company like Google how to run their software business? Seriously?

  • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:10PM (#31707830) Homepage
    You're so right... Check out this quote FTS:

    Where this gets unusual is that of the 21% of Android users purchasing one or more apps, the average number of apps purchased is 5[1]. That is 1.4 more apps per month than the equivalent iPhone user! ... I conclude therefore that a large proportion of Android users simply cannot purchase and download paid for apps to their phone. I blame Google and its appallingly poor management of the Android market.

    How can he draw this conclusion? What about the possibility (as OP suggested) that Android users are simply less likely to pay for apps? I know I personally VERY rarely will buy one (I've paid for 8 in the 2 years I've been running Android)... What about the fact that Android has a 24 hour return policy whereas the iPhone doesn't let you return once you purchase (Which makes me question if out of the iPhone's more purchases how many are actually used continuously)... While I do think the app needs some tweaking (Different sorting, better category functionality, tagging, and a web front end), it's by no means appallingly poor... I think the target audience and company culture is the reason it's not as successful at sales (and that's not a bad thing for the ecosystem)...

    Is it just me, or is this just another article written by someone who wants to be heard? How many articles have we seen about how Adroid's going to fail, and this is wrong with it, and that's wrong with it...? Yet as time goes on, it gets stronger and stronger. While I do think there's a lot that needs to be worked on, it's not going anywhere anytime soon regardless of what any of these blog writers think...

    JMHO...

  • by pla (258480) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:14PM (#31707882) Journal
    Right you are! All of the handset makers using Android would just love to cater to a couple of thousand nerds who would rather spend an hour looking for a free solution than spend 5 minutes and 99 cents downloading a commercial one

    First, I would consider that an insightful (if sarcastic) comment. And Apple has done well with understanding that.

    That said, you've totally missed the point. Google doesn't give a shit if Namco, or even Verizon, can make a buck on their phone. Google only cares that Google can make a buck on their phones, and so far in their history, they have done so precisely by catering to their most valuable nonmonetary resource - "a couple of thousand nerds who would rather spend an hour looking for a free solution", or better yet, write their own and thus make the product more valuable to both geeks and non-geeks alike.
  • by crashumbc (1221174) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:15PM (#31707892)

    Exactly. While Google wants to make money, a lot of their actions show that they want to simply make the web better, money or no money.

    to be more accurate imo, they want to make the web better, because they believe growing the entire market will by extension grow their piece of the pie.(hence making them more money)

  • Re:What (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:18PM (#31707918)

    As a phone platform, the Android OS beats the hell out of the iPhone OS. However, the Android Market is sorely lacking compared to the App Store, I can never seem to find what I am looking for in AM, and have to wade thru several sketchy/unstable apps to find anything.

  • by papasui (567265) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:22PM (#31707960) Homepage
    You can't buy 100% of the applications on any android phone. For example on my wife's Motorola Backflip she can't get Google Goggles. Sit right next to her on the same network using a different Android phone we can download it. Other applications such as Facebook and Pandora are resolution limited and won't work on certain phones. Now you can argue that its up to the developers to make applications that work across the board but perhaps it should be a requirement for getting listed on the Android store. Either way, I currently have 2 Android phones in my house and an iPhone3GS. The iPhone is the one that I use the most.
  • Re:I don't get it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by karnal (22275) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:25PM (#31707980)

    Picture this:

    I have a phone now. I'm looking at the nice and shiny android phones. But I am not quite convinced that the apps are what I might need.

    How do I find out from a PC that there's something that would push me over the edge?

    That's the mole hill that you tripped over.

  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:31PM (#31708058) Homepage
    I think you just proved his point - the things that are difficult on the iPhone are the nerdy sorts of things that you and I might want to do, but which most people really don't. People ask me for technical advice all the time, and I've never been asked how to print from a phone.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:35PM (#31708110) Homepage Journal

    In short, I have no idea how the Android app market works, and the search results are haphazard enough that I don't trust it. And as you pointed out, I can't even organize the search results. No sorting by downloads, by popularity, by ratings, or by developer.

    Look, it was 200 years ago that Adam Smith worked out that not everybody's good at everything. Clearly they need to outsource the search to someone who's good at it. Like, I dunno, Google?

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:39PM (#31708170)

    GMail and Firefox are successful. Chrome is only doing well because you get nagged on the google search page if you aren't using it. Linux is only successful in the server market, and its fighting tooth and nail for that.

    Linux is too fragmented to take over and actually set the standard rather than chasing it. Chrome will disappear into obscurity the instant Googles attention turns elsewhere.

    You and I have different definitions of 'beta', but to me it seems that beta has no meaning to you ... as you follow Google far too closely to tell the difference. Let me give you a hint: The OSS world doesn't really know what a release is. That includes Google. Its all more of a collection of nightly builds where occasionally they stop for a few days (maybe even weeks!) to fix bugs rather than implement new things halfassed.

  • by medcalf (68293) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:40PM (#31708180) Homepage
    With such a simple process, you wonder why people buy so many more iPhones (and apps for them) than Android phones and apps.
  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:08PM (#31708462)

    Good thing there are other markets (no root required): http://www.slideme.com/ [slideme.com]

    Amazing what an "open market" can do eh?

  • Re:What (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:33PM (#31708688)

    The thing is that Google is not a software company - they're an advertising company.

  • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:34PM (#31708696) Homepage

    I've had an iPhone since a month after the initial release. I've not had a crash, a lockup or any other sort of issue

    That's odd, because EVERY SINGLE person I know with an iPhone has had an issue at one point or another. Sometimes it took a restart to fix, sometimes it took a reset, and a few times it took a device swap, but it happened to every one. Now, I'm not saying that the iPhone is unstable (as the GP is), but I am saying that it's not a model of stability. Neither is any MS product. Neither is Android...

    Fragmentation isn't a good thing, regardless of what Linux fanboys think.

    So tailoring a product to the needs of the consumer isn't a good thing? Making different size clothes isn't a good thing? Making medication available in different doses isn't a good thing? The fact of the matter is that different people need different things. Most people don't need a smart phone at all. So that rules out the iPhone for them. But it doesn't rule out Android (it is being put on increasingly "light" devices). Fragmentation can be good, so long as it's controlled and for a reason... That's why different phones exist (oh yeah, that's right, you think there should be one phone to rule them all)...

    Yep, Apple requires you purchase through the AppStore that they control ... and you think thats bad ... except ... everyone else in the world prefers it over any alternative. Look at the combined android device sales figures, compare them to ... well anyone really. I was going to say Apple, but Android would be a lemon in this case so its not a fair comparison

    Actually, you can't say that for sure. There can be no alternative to the App store, so you can't say that a (possibly large) portion of iPhone users wouldn't use another market... You're telling me that everyone who like the iPhone experience LIKES the restrictive store? I know at least one person (the only one I've talked to about it) that's not a geek that would disagree with you...

    You're arguement is that Android is better because you can get shittier apps because there is absolutely no oversight?

    It's not about quality... It's about availability. There are dozens of things I can get from the Android market (and actually have and use) that wouldn't be allowed in the Apple market... I'm an adult, and I like being treated like one, and not told how and what I can use...

    Look at the combined android device sales figures, compare them to ... well anyone really.

    Hrm, really? What [engadget.com] about all [engadget.com] of these [engadget.com] news stories [engadget.com]? Sure, total sales to day are slim, but considering the first powerhouse Android phones are only MAYBE 6 months old, it's growing quite fast...

    We've ported portions of it to Android, but unless something spectacular happens it'll never finish. No one here likes them for various reasons.

    Can you please elaborate on why? As it stands, it sounds like pure fanboi-ism, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and ask your reasoning...?

    Continue making your battle cry 'but I can run anything I want on it' and maybe eventually you will realize that while thats great from an idealogical standpoint, its fucking retarded from a practical standpoint, and practical is what normal people actually care about.

  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zorkon (121860) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:59PM (#31708928) Homepage

    Yes, it does need saving. The reason you see more and more Android-based phones is twofold:

    1. Manufacturers have hopped on the Android bandwagon, ramped up production and are pushing the things.

    and

    2. iPhones are so popular that people are beginning to look for alternatives that set them apart from the iPhone-toting crowd. Android is the obvious choice.

    I decided that I would switch from my iPhone to a Google Nexus One last month. After using the Nexus One as my primary phone for the past 3 weeks, I'm switching back to my iPhone this weekend.

    Why? Because I'm willing to give up some of my freedom for a polished phone that works. If I want to tinker with a half-baked open source project, I can always do that on my desktop.

    Android is a nice concept, but it's a mishmash of bungled user interfaces and crappy apps.

    My major complaints:

    1. There is no consistent user interface across *any* of the apps - built-in or 3rd party. It's a free for all. I can understand that when it comes to the 3rd party stuff, but the apps bundled with Android should at least *try* to adhere to some sort of usability and user interface standard.

    2. Multitasking, while a great idea, is executed incredibly poorly on Android. Hell yeah, you can run as many apps as you want in the background. But Google doesn't have a good way to manage all of those tasks. There is no decent built-in task management system.

    There are 2 buttons on the front of the Nexus One that relate to task management: Home and Back. Pressing Home takes you to the home screen and puts whatever app you were running into the background. Fine. "Back" according to Google documentation, is supposed to quit your app and return to the home screen.

    Only guess what? "Back" functionality can be overridden in each program. So in some programs, pressing Back does indeed kill the task. In others, it doesn't. In others, like the Android browser, pressing it repeatedly *eventually* returns you to the home screen - but doesn't exit the Browser process.

    And then there's the problem w/tasks that start automatically when you don't want them to. I have an RSS newsreader that automatically runs whenever the phone boots, even though I've set it to *not* poll feeds in the background. Same with the Amazon MP3 marketplace app (hello, why does that have to run on boot? I'm not *buying* anything, so get out of my face).

    3. Android Marketplace App sucks. It's hard to find things in the marketplace - you only have a few top-level categories and then giant pools of apps to browse through. Which you can only do on your phone (well, Doubletwist now allows limited Marketplace browsing, but iTunes still wins for usability).

    4. Did I mention that the Marketplace reviews are filled with spam comments? Not just people who are unimpressed with the apps, but outright spam.

    5. Android forks. Lots of complaints in the Marketplace about how an app works well on one device, but not on another. Holy shades of Windows CE / Pocket PC Batman!

    Basically, my experience with Android can be summed up as: "typical open source project - shows lots of promise, but usability and user interfaces were an afterthought".

    That's OK when we're talking about a Linux server or desktop where I primarily interact with it on the command line. It is *much less* OK when it comes to a mobile device that I rely on for communications.

    While I do miss the Nexus One's beautiful screen, I'm much happier using my iPhone as my day-to-day phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @03:03PM (#31709462)

    Linux is only successful in the server market, and its fighting tooth and nail for that.

    Bwahahaha, yeah right. Whereas OS X has crushed Linux, and the BSDs in the server room. I think not.

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