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Android's "Flea Market" Needs Urgent Attention 226

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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  • Re:I don't get it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thepike ( 1781582 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:50PM (#31707600)
    I agree that it would be great to search the market online (I tried before I got my Eris and was pretty mad when I couldn't) but at the same time it's not a deal breaker. I've never had any issues getting apps that I want (assuming they're available) now that I have the phone. I'm also not sure the point that fewer people are paying for apps on android than iphones, did they look at the number of free vs paid apps (I didn't). Most of the apps I want are free, so why would I pay for one?
  • by anonsdo ( 1779824 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:53PM (#31707634)

    You *can* search the Android Market from your PC, without having an Android phone.
    1. download the Android SDK
    2. start an Android Emulator, this gets you a virtual phone that uses your PC's internet connection
    3. load the Android Market application on to the Emulator
    4. Open the Android Market application
    5. Search the Android Market

    This is not an easy process. But, I have done it, and it works.

  • Re:You mean like... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:00PM (#31707712) Homepage Journal
    Also, whoever said that Google does want to be a threat to Apple? Granted, Google is a corporation and corporations like to make money, but that doesn't mean they have to present a direct threat to any other company. It always seemed to me like Google just did what Google did because:

    A) It would be good for Google.
    B) They thought it would be really helpful and/or cool.

    I mean, sure, Google made a competitive product with the iPhone in releasing the Android architecture. They also made a competitive product with Mozilla in releasing Chrome. They also made a competitive product to Hotmail, Yahoo mail, Lycos mail, etc. by releasing G-mail. Hell, now they are even getting into a market where they seem to want to compete with companies they've never even had contact with. Look into the types of business decisions they are making with regards to alternative energy technology and power management technology. Then of course there are their products that weren't really designed to compete with anything, but were meant to bring an entirely new product to the market. That is, they developed Google, their search engine, and Google maps/Earth to bring about products that really were so polished and impressive that they completely revolutionized the way we work.

    So, yeah, Google has some products on the market that compete with Apple. That doesn't mean they want to threaten Apple. Hell, I'd wager that doesn't even mean they want Apple to fail So far as I have seen, Google seems to foster the notion of fair competition through product development, rather than other, shadier, business practices like embrace, extend, extinguish. That is, Google may not want to the threaten Apple or anything else. It seems to me that they just want to innovate and be creative. That's why I've always respected them. They don't intend to shutdown competitors. They just intend to be on par and/or better then them. So why make assertions that Google needs to threaten Apple? It doesn't need to do that at all. So far as I can tell, Google just needs to keep on doing what they are doing and people will continue to use their products if they find them to be superior. It's that simple.

    Moral of the story? It seems this guy's discussion is founded on the baseless assumption that all corporations/businesses prefer a monopoly/severe-market-dominance over a healthy competing economy. I don't see where that assumption is ever verified or validated in any way. That makes the whole damn thing dribble in my opinion.
  • Re:I don't get it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:08PM (#31707818)

    I think the problem with the Android app market is that you have no idea what you're missing in your searches. There are categories, sure. But do I really want to browse 5000 apps in entertainment to make sure that that's not where the video players are hiding? Or when I search for a battery management app, do I search for battery management? Battery? Battery saver? And if I scroll down more, what do I get? Do I get results that are less relevant? Less used? Older? Combination thereof?

    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.

    The Android App store is right now my biggest gripe of the entire Android ecosystem. Google and others have produced some outstanding apps, but I have no idea if they're there, or what it is that I should search for.

    Here are a couple of suggestions that would drastically improve the user experience:
    - have a web interface available. Seriously, that's a no-brainer.
    - let me order the results by ratings, downloads, date, publisher and name. Another complete no-brainer.
    - Allow me to recommend apps to friends and contacts. Or allow me to set my download privacy so that friends and contacts can see what I installed.
    - Provide a staff pick

    3 out of 4 of those are brain dead to implement, and don't even require much computational complexity. Considering that the app store is part of what makes the iPhone the iPhone, I don't understand what's keeping Google from actually offering a usable experience.

  • Re:What (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:09PM (#31708472)

    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.

    Voice dial over blue tooth. Windows Mobile, iPhone, Blackberry - all have had this for a long time and Android does not. I used to have a Win Mobile phone and loved that feature with the add on software for it, but now I have a Droid. I like the Droid a lot and recommend it, but always with the caveat of "no voice dial over BT".

  • Re:I don't get it? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:25PM (#31708632)

    I'd like to add one more thing to your list: a single currency for all transactions!

    In the Apple app store, everything is priced in dollars. In the Android Marketplace, I've seen items priced in dollars, yen, euro and British pounds (yes, I can do conversions in my head, but I shouldn't have to think about it). Even more annoying is that the market doesn't accept American Express cards for non-dollar transactions, and this isn't documented anywhere I could find. I had to search Google to find out why my Amex card was being declined for a purchase, even after I had just successfully made one with another app. I don't want to keep two cards on file to buy apps from a single store.

    If the Android Market is going to ultimately be successful, it will need to be much more polished than it currently is. It also needs to provide an environment that's more friendly to developers who actually expect to get paid for developing apps and games -- at least ones that look and act more professional than your average half-baked open source app (but that's another issue entirely...)

  • by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@ya h o> on Friday April 02, 2010 @03:20PM (#31709140)

    That may be true, but there's something that you forgot as well. Apps have existed on the iPhone since just a few months after the release. Before saurik's Cydia really took off, we had Before the SDK, there were programmers who reverse-engineered how to do stuff. Labyrinth and Tap Tap Revolution were launch titles in the App Store...but only because they were being released for free before Apple made an official distribution channel. For extra fun, the early versions of TTR used to let you use your own songs, make your own tap patterns and upload/download them, and compete with other players.

    The first paid app I can recall that was available for the iPhone that was available through the unofficial distribution channels was SwirlyMMS, and it does a stellar job at handling MMS traffic. The distribution model was later integrated into Cydia.

    Also, consider the nature of the apps being released. While WinMo may have been a gold mine for Microsoft in the consumer realms, it made inroads in niche markets of industry. When I worked for Staples, we had inventory scanner guns that ran a terminal emulation app on WinMo that interacted with our AS/400 inventory system. While the WinMo version and the iPhone version are close in price ($25 for WinMo, $29 for iPhone with a free Lite version), the lack of a barcode scanner makes it nearly useless for warehouse and inventory management on the iPhone. Similarly, the last time I got my oil changed at Wal-Mart, the serviceman used a WinMo scanner to check my car in for service.

    The reason I bring this up isn't to bash the iPhone or glorify WinMo, but because the apps being written for WinMo are generally geared toward industrial and professional users for whom it is justifiable to spend more money on an app that greatly aids running their business. At the same time, the price point of WinMo apps are similar to the market needs, so a low-volume, high-margin sale is effective, thus yielding a chicken-and-egg problem in the consumer market. The iPhone apps lend themselves to being impulse buys by an average consumer, and average consumers have been paying $2-$3 for ringtones and $5 for games on their phones for years. While I'll agree that the prices have come down quite a bit, I'll guess that part of it is that phone models in years past had only a handful of games to pick from, and at that they were only available from Verizon/ATT/TMo/Sprint. When you're going up against 100,000 other apps, you have to have one amazing app to price yourself anywhere on the right side of the bell curve.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @05:34PM (#31710166)

    You can do more with a stock Android phone than you can with an iPhone. However, a lot of Android owners root their phone. Rooting gives the following abilities:

    Ability to tether, even via wireless or by Bluetooth.
    Ability to add ipchains/iptables rules so an app like Droidwall can configure the IP stack only to allow apps to communicate that really need to.
    Ability to have custom ROMs and delete a lot of the bloatware that some vendors put on there. This can noticeably save battery life.
    Ability to overclock/underclock the phone for added speed or better battery life.
    Ability to have virtual memory and use the SD card for swap.
    Ability to merge the apps directory with space on the SD card using apps2sd. This allows for more space for apps, as Android only allows apps on the internal memory for security reasons.
    Ability to add more UNIX executables to the phone. A stock Android phone generally only has busybox. Adding more stuff such as bash, gnupg, mutt, and other UNIX utilities make a phone double as a nice mini UNIX terminal, or even pen testing utilities.
    And that is just a few.

    Caveat: Rooting isn't for everyone. I have seen some Android phones that if one screws up a filesystem, there is no flash image that one can use to fix things, so the phone is essentially bricked. Other phones like the Cliq might end up unusable if the radio ROM and the main ROM of the phone differ, and one has to reflash a new image to get both in sync, losing root. Rooting also might blow the warranty of the phone.

    The nice thing about Android is that unlike the iPhone, you don't have to root it to do almost everything you want it to. In general, unless one knows a "#" prompt from a "$" prompt, they shouldn't even bother rooting, because rooting tends to only matter to those who have good UNIX knowledge or are into flashing custom ROMs.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!