A Lot in Store for Smartphone Users

Carl Weinschenk

It's an exciting time for smartphones. The Android Market will debut today at the same time as the much-anticipated T-Mobile G1, the first phone built on Android. Research in Motion this week announced its own online store and embedded software that will make it easier for users to download and install applications. Finally, late last week Handango said it will carry free and paid Android applications.

 

A ZDNet blogger had an early look at the Android Market and says some of the applications have been removed in anticipation of launch. They presumably will be reintroduced over time. The writer says he was pleased with those apps and links to a previous piece that offered details. He particularly likes a Twitter client called TwitRoid, an application that syncs contacts with Exchange Server called ContactSync, and Android iTunes Remote, which controls an iTunes library wirelessly.

 

The BlackBerry announcement was made at Research in Motion's Developer Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. The company said the storefront will launch in March, 2009, that submissions will be accepted beginning in December, and that developers can sign up now.

 

Of course, there will be competition between the marketplaces. In addition to those tied to a specific company or group -- the iPhone App Store is the other, of course -- there is at least one major independent marketplace in Handango, which serves as many devices and operating systems as possible. While the Android Market will offer applications for free exclusively at its launch, ReadWriteWeb reports that Handango is offering to let developers offer Android apps for free or a one-time, monthly, quarterly or annual subscription fee. This Silicon Alley Insider piece is interesting in the context of the nascent competition. The piece reports that developer Steve Demeter has so far made $250,000 selling a game called Trism on the App Store. The game, which costs $4.99, generated that revenue after an initial investment of $5,000 and despite the 30 percent cut that Apple gets. Demeter has decided to develop only for Apple. His rationale is that he is making a good deal of money and wants to avoid the potential headaches of developing for multiple Android-based devices.

 

It will be a vigorous marketplace, largely because of differences. Apple demands a fee and exerts significant oversight. Android is far looser. While Demeter found success with the iPhone and the App Store, the owners of the music service Imeem released its first mobile application on Android and will sell it in the Android Market. The Vice President of Marketing sidestepped a question about why the Android Market was chosen over the App Store and wouldn't rule out a version for the iPhone. The fact remains, however, that the company opted for the newcomer.


 

There may even be a competition on which system has the best kill switches. Both the iPhone and Android T-Mobile G1 come with software that can deal a fatal blow to applications. Computerworld says that the reaction of developers may vary simply because Android fessed up to the existence of the switch more quickly and promises to make an effort to reimburse folks who paid for suddenly deceased applications. The writer points out that the switch may be pressed into service more often by the Android Market because it doesn't vet applications, while the App store does.



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