If you haven’t been following the latest iPhone meladrama, then you’re missing out. The long and short of it is, Apple has rejected Google’s Voice application and subsequently removed all Google Voice apps from their App Store. This has cause a nice bit of upheaval on geek blogs everywhere, including here. While things are still up in the air about who exactly is at fault over this (Apple or AT&T), I’d like to look at this from a different angle.
With Apple being the sole source of approval for applications in its App Store, this most recent issue has brought to light a problem that has long existed for iPhone apps. The fact that an application’s existance in the App Store and on iPhones is decided at the sole discretion of Apple and no one else. Yes, it is true that AT&T has in the past requested applications be hindered (like SlingPlayer specifically), but Apple still has the final word on an applications ability to be in the App Store.
With that in mind, it begs the question, could this fiasco be what helps bring more people to the Android platform? The Android platform (Google’s operating system for mobile phones) is an open platform. The platform itself is derived from Linux, and is open source. It also is designed to be installed on different devices rather than just a single piece of hardware, meaning you can have a large number of devices running Android. You can also have different kinds of devices running the Android operating system (Acer has announced a netbook that will run Android).
The big thing here is that the Android MarketPlace (the Android app store), doesn’t have a draconian approval process. You publish your application to the Marketplace and that’s it, you’re done. If Apple keeps up this practice of not approving useful apps that people want and they also continue to remove previously approved applications from the App Store, it could cause developers to look elsewhere. If a developer can code an app and release it to an App Store without fear of it being removed “just because” would a developer not choose to do so?
The issue here is that (currently) the iPhone is pretty much the most popular phone in the world, making it a very hot platform to develop for. Getting an application into the iPhone App Store means millions of potential customers. While Android currently doesn’t have the same numbers, it does have the possibility to have better numbers if a few high profile devices with some powerful hardware. Keep in mind also, that Motorola has latched on to Android with a furocious passion and they move a lot of handsets. Android has tremendous potential to take off, though it might take another year or two before it really becomes a force to be reckoned with.
If you are a developer doing iPhone development, how does this recent Google Voice app issue affect your decision to develop for the iPhone? Is it making your reconsider your platform of choice? Do you not care about it? Are you looking at Android more closely than before, or not at all? Leave commments, I’m interested to know.