According to a CNet article, Google announced at its Google Music launch last week that there were 200 million activated Android devices in the world today. What’s more, Google claims another 550,000 are activated every single day.
If these numbers are accurate — and don’t forget, the late Steve Jobs accused Google of inflating its activation numbers, a charge Google later denied — it’s truly astonishing. That means more than a million new Android devices are being activated every two days, 22,916 are being activated every hour, 381 every minute.
Anyway, it’s a big number.
Apple isn’t exactly an also-ran here though. At its October press event, it announced that 250 million iOS devices had been sold since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. That’s an impressive number until you look at the fact that Neowin.net reported that in May Google claimed 100 million active devices, and in just 6 months it activated 100 million more.
What’s more, Amazon wants to boost that figure a bit more this holiday season, announcing that every non-iPhone on Amazon is available for just a penny with a two-year activation contract.
So with all these Android devices flying out the door, that has to mean big profits for developers creating apps, right? Not so fast. Fortune blogger Phillip Elmer-Dewitt reported on a study by Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster which found that Google had generated just 7 percent of the income of the Apple App Store.
While some people such as Todd Ogasawara at Inside Mobile Apps have questioned the basis for these numbers, it’s hard to argue with one data point in the Fortune post:
“Apple developers have made more than $3.4 billion since 2011, compared with less than $240 million for Google developers.”
And Ogasawara even acknowledges that the spirit of the report is true, even if he quibbles with some of the details. No matter how you count the income, the bottom line is Apple developers are making way more.
And Munster say that he expects Apple to maintain this kind of dominance for at least another 3-4 years.
If you’re a developer, you have to be looking at these numbers and shaking your head. You have this incredibly large market with an open environment and that has to be a lot more attractive to many in the technical community than Apple and its controlling, closed environment — but it’s hard to ignore the bottom line.
Let’s face it, the number of Android devices in the world is only going to continue to increase in leaps in bounds. That’s because there are multiple vendors selling Android devices of varying quality and price points around the world from high-end to very cheap low-end phones and tablets. There’s only one Apple selling iOS devices.
All things being equal, it seems most developers would go Android, but they aren’t equal as Munster’s report clearly indicates, and it creates a conundrum for developers on which platforms they should place their bets. For now, it’s clearly Apple, but Android’s shear size is hard to ignore.
Photo by Jemimus on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License. ]]>
Lest we forget, earlier this year Nokia suddenly dropped Symbian and MeeGo and threw its weight behind Windows Phone 7.
Mobile development is a confusing landscape under the best of circumstances, but the last week in particular, just turned it on its head. I don’t want to be over dramatic about it because it’s not as though Apple abandoned iOS or Google abandoned Android, but it’s a pretty big deal that HP walked away from webOS.
It leaves me wondering how many business models were just throw into disarray by HP’s seemingly impetuous decision. While the HP TouchPad got mixed reviews, developers reportedly really liked webOS as a development platform, even if they were cautious — and it turned out with good reason — about throwing resources at it just yet.
Box. net, an online storage and collaboration company, recently announced support across all of the major platforms including HP TouchPad. They went so far as to run a promotion with HP offering a whopping 50 GB of free storage to TouchPad buyers, good for the life of the Box account (and don’t forget it’s good across many devices and platforms).
Box could not have been pleased when HP walked away from the tablets barely 7 weeks after the July 1st launch, but Box CEO Aaron Levie chose to see it in a positive light saying, “Ironically, the short-term impact has been positive: recent TouchPad sales have driven a major spike in Box signups – 30,000 Box for TouchPad app downloads to date…”
Some speculate that webOS will rise again, but it’s impossible to say what its future is right now, and I don’t see many developers supporting it at this point, even if somebody rescues it. But Box’s Levie says, he doesn’t see this having a huge impact on emerging platforms in general. Instead, he believes it may push the adoption of a more standardized approach like HTML5.
“I doubt HP’s decision will dissuade developers from building for emerging platforms in a major way. Rather, the focus will be on speeding up and standardizing cross-platform app development – for instance, leveraging HTML5 to more efficiently bring services to all devices, like we recently did with our HTML5 mobile web app,” Levie said.
Regardless, HP’s decision had to leave developers a bit shell shocked, wondering what would happen next. Maybe Levie’s right though and it will force the industry to look at a more standardized development approach where it doesn’t matter when vendors come and go like this.
Dear Symbian Developers,
OK, it didn’t say it like that exactly, but it might as well have. You see Nokia has made it crystal clear that Symbian is not part of its long term plans. There are many phones still in development and that momentum will carry them into 2012, but Nokia has a new love — a long-distance romance in Redmond, Washington, and that will be the focus of its energy moving forward.
And Nokia was not shy about its intentions. When it comes time to upgrade, they hope customers will get a Nokia phone running Windows Phone 7 — not Symbian.
That’s not to say, however, they are ready to kick poor Symbian to the curb just yet. As they like to say on Facebook, “it’s complicated.” That’s because Nokia does a lot of business in a lot of places where Symbian is firmly entrenched. It may be losing ground in the US and western Europe, but it’s still all that and a bag of chips in India, China, Turkey and Russia. It would be foolish to simply walk away from these lucrative developing markets, so Nokia will be dare I say, be torn between two lovers for a while.
Where does that leave Symbian developers exactly? Well, obviously not in a good position. As Harry Fairhead wrote on I Programmer, it’s not looking promising:
“The letter then goes on to say that there are many Symbian devices in the pipeline and a lot of existing Symbian users. Most programmers view this as just the inertia left in the system as the motor driving the flywheel is shut off.”
Indeed. Nokia didn’t make nice with Microsoft for nothing. Like any love triangle, there is a time to extricate yourself from the older lover while moving on to the new one. Microsoft has reportedly paid Nokia a lot of money, so one can presume reasonably that they want some semblance of exclusivity eventually.
It doesn’t leave those who make their living off the Symbian ecosystems in a terribly comfortable position. There will be opportunities to be sure, but there is little doubt that Nokia is going in a new direction.
In the end, like many long-term relationships coming to an end with a new, more desirable lover in the picture, the end will likely be slow and painful, but make no mistake, the end is coming.
And if you’re all in with Symbian, you might want to think about exploring other options sooner than later because your sugar daddy is moving on.
Photo by quinn.anya on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.