To Android, or Not to Android. That’s the Developer’s Question

Keeping with the mobile theme this week, we’re going to talk about Android. Particularly Android development. While Google execs tout the ability to “differentiate” Android on various carriers and devices, developers are screaming about fragmentation.

A recent survey by IDC and Appcelerator shows the number of companies developing for Android continues to steadily decline. The drop of 4.7% for Android on phones is the latest in four consecutive quarters of declining interest. In total 78.6% of developers are interested in Android on phones, and 65.9% on tablets.

While the downward trend seems indicative of a problem, the overall numbers are still high. It isn’t like Google Play will be devoid of apps any time soon. Maybe that’s why Google execs don’t seem to be concerned. Certainly the sale of Android devices hasn’t experienced any similar slump. On the contrary, sales of Android devices are up and most studies show that Android is the OS of choice for future purchases.

So for the end user fragmentation doesn’t seem to matter at all. We continue to scoop up Android devices like crazy. (Just a side note: In general the commercials for Android devices are better don’t you think, than what Apple puts out for iPhone? Check out the Droid Bionic ad from Verizon) But for developers it is a real issue. A business issue. If developers can’t make money on a platform then they can’t justify the costs of creating apps.

But is the problem really with fragmentation…or Google Play? Distimo Report, a company that monitors and reports on apps across platforms released their February report that shows that the Amazon Appstore is more profitable for developers than Google Play. In the full report full report, Distimo makes the case that in January, Amazon had approximately 50% more paid app downloads than Google Play.

Both Amazon and Apple have controls in place for their market. They also have trust and relationships with their customers. We all use Google, but how many of use pay Google for anything? We’ve all become rightly suspicious of handing out our credit card information – especially over mobile devices.

So the problem for Google, and the developers of Android apps, is multi-faceted. Android isn’t going to go away anytime soon, but Google will need to take action eventually on all fronts if it is to survive the ever changing mobile market in the long term.

What’s your opinion of Google Play and Android apps? Have you paid for any Android apps, or are you enjoying the plethora of free options?