A few days ago, I stumbled upon [H]ardOCP talking about a “front page” article saying that Google may have inadvertently pushed some Android developers to the iPhone SDK… This is rather an ironic tale of karmic shock as about a year ago, there were some whispers in the grapevine that Google was proposing to OpenMoko prospective programmers with a rather gutsy move to say “Come to our project, cause we are Google after all! We have tons of capital and our project is more financially stable.” So naturally, most programmers do want a buck for their efforts and most basically said “bye” to the OpenMoko Project and hopped on the Google Android bandwagon. In the midst of all the hub-bub of Google vs. OpenMoko, the Apple iPhone crowd was rather disappointed that their shiny $500+ toy had no clean API layer to play with like Windows Mobile or PalmOS. They managed to juryrig their own method of installing applications onto “jailbroken” iPhones by apps like iPwn or WinPwn to free the phone’s certification of applications in a means of giving the device a gray zone to play in. Of course, the problem with that was Apple’s coders releasing new firmware builds for the iPhone would render these “jailbroken” iPhones into paperweights unless the unofficial teams such as the “iPhone Dev Team” found ways to circumvent Apple’s check-sums. That somewhat changed with the iPhone 2.0 software release and the offical push of the iPhone Software Development Kit (or SDK for short).
Let’s delve into the background of the 2 “major” projects…
The Android project (in my observation) almost is a deceptive concept of “open source” as depending on how you rank with Google, you get certain layers of access with Android. What do I mean? Like if you’re an amateur coder who wants to make an application for fun, you would have basic access to the API. Now… let’s say you did something like won the “Google Summer of Code” competition or you are dumping millions of dollars to Google’s Android venture, naturally, you get premium access to the newest SDK builds and even API access to even control device functions. That could get some users who have slaved hours on Google’s Android project pissed! This is really the pressing concern from the article highlighted by AppleInsider, actually. Imagine that you and a few friends of yours make a killer app that just requires you to know the exact pressure sensitivity readings of the touch screen for an Android phone, but the caveat is none of your “staff” are big name commercial people or Summer of Code winners… This could be the one failing crux to your masterpiece to ever find completion. However, someone who won the Summer of Code competition may have an all access pass to all functions of the phone and could create a killer app that could rival yours. End result: Your team loses out on a chance to monetize on your killer app, yet your competitor gets a chance to dominate the market. Could you imagine the frustration to know your competitor’s app would be up for sale in Google’s Android App Shop for $2.99 a download while you’re going “If only Google let us access code on touch screen sensitivity…” with your friends?
Apple’s iPhone SDK is much in the same spirit like Google, an illusion of open source, but I feel they have mitigated drama by allowing all users certain levels of access. There’s the “Free” SDK which is just basic tools to build and test apps for personal use. But to get your name out there… Apple wants you to pony up $99 for a Basic Developer license which gives you the right to distribute your app to other iPhones via WiFi and also sell/give your app away at the iTunes App store. Should you sell your app, you do get 70% of the revenue. Then there’s the “Enterprise” license for $299 which allows you the power to make in-house corporate apps for the iPhone, like a trippy app that monitors and plays with your custom ECU for a tuner shop or other endless things your corporation wants to use the iPhone for. This license in particular is recommended for firms employing 500 people or more.
In my opinion, Apple’s rules are a little more concrete than the undefined access rules that Google has imposed on it’s users… We’ll have to sit and see how things brew down. The fact that Google’s been dawdling with producing a real and hard phone is making their time slip, while Apple and even OpenMoko have live phones to play with! Sure, Google has a deal with HTC to have a phone created as well as make it so that users with HTC phones can do a firmware update to have Android operational on their phones… Add to this that they are trying to fight between T-Mobile USA and Sprint|Nextel as official providers… You have a concept that may simply have trouble breaking the market in a solid fashion. I guess in a sense I am saying… Google better give everyone an “eHug” and get their crap straight or come up with a better strategy quickly unless they want to let Apple take more limelight from them..