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Android Needs Google For Now

Today, we’re seeing two types of Android devices on the market: those with a basic, “vanilla” installation of Android and those with Android and Google services. This means developers and manufacturers have choices as to whether or not to integrate tightly with Google services. This decision requires some serious thought.

Android is a free and open platform. Device manufacturers can take the platform and put it on their own devices. Software developers can write applications for Android without concern about being blocked from publishing as they can always choose to self-distribute their applications. However, this freedom comes as a price. A price the end-users often end up paying: a fragmented platform with a fragmented market. Today, we’re seeing two types of Android devices on the market: those with a basic, “vanilla” installation of Android and those with Android and Google services. This means developers and manufacturers have choices as to whether or not to integrate tightly with Google services. This decision requires some serious thought. Here are two pieces of advice: one for device manufacturers and one for developers. Manufacturers: Android Devices without Google Services are Surprisingly Lame Device manufacturers need to seriously consider including Google services on their Android devices. Android without Google services is surprisingly limited. Sure, replacing these services-- from maps and email clients to podcast players and the Android Market -- is feasible. However, replicating these familiar services on a broad scale likely to excite users is often prohibitively expensive, not to mention difficult to sell from a brand perspective. Don’t short-change your end users without good reason and a solid plan to provide similar services. Developers: There are Market Opportunities for Developing Apps for Android Devices without Google Services On the flip side, software developers need to remember that there are many Android devices for sale that do not have Google services, including the Android Market application. Said a different way: do not assume all end-users of Android applications have access to the Android Market! We’ve seen some Android platforms without easy access to the many awesome Android apps available, purely due to the fact that these apps are only available on the Google Android Market. This can be an opportunity for developers, but the lack of application availability on a device can also kill any chance that device will be a success… and it can give a bad wrap to the platform as a whole. There are many alternates to the Android Market for paid applications. For free applications, simply providing the application for download on a web site is the easiest and best solution to support users who can't use Android Market. For now, Android needs Google and Google Services For now, Google is critical to the success of Android. This is a double-edged sword. Recent versions of the Android SDK and tools have begun to separate the Google APIs and apps from the basic, “vanilla” installation of Android. Device manufacturers and software developers need to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of the different flavors of the Android platform.

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