Apple and RIM and Android, oh my!

How come when smartphone and tablet news comes it comes in bunches? This time its Apple and RIM and Android. My thoughts on each:

Apple’s WWDC and “Delayed” iPhone 5

Apple opened up the World Wide Developer Conference yesterday morning and sold it out in 12 hours. Google’s similar conference, i/o, sold out in less than an hour the last time it was offered. This is amazingly fast and demonstrates the interest the developer community has in iOS and Google Android development. Horace Dediu over at Asymco wrote another great post on the topic:

Developers certainly seem to sense the way the wind is blowing. They are, as humans, prone to over-confidence but they are also often accused of being hard to please. The most common lament among new platform builders is “How do we attract developers?”  The platforms showcased here had no trouble attracting developers in the tens of thousands three years after being launched.

At the same time, the rumors started to fly about iPhone 5 being “delayed” until fall. (I put delayed in quotes because Apple really can’t delay an un-announced device. They are just releasing it at a different time of year this year.)

Personally I think this is brilliant. WWDC is a developer conference and should be focused on the operating system. It makes perfect sense for Apple to introduce its latest and greatest iOS in June and ship new devices in August and September, just in time for Christmas and back-to-school.

RIM Playbook Supports Every Developer Platform Imaginable

The latest scuttle-butt is that RIM is making it possible for Android developers, among others, to write apps that run in an emulator on the Playbook. Personally, I think this is RIM’s future if they want developers. Most of us developers will only develop for one or two platforms, leaving the rest out. Clearly those two platforms, right now, are Android and iOS. And RIM needs apps for the PlayBook now.

Anyone who has followed RIM for a long time will note that the company has tried to work with other device manufacturers and platforms for years. BlackBerry Connect was such an effort, making it possible for third-parties such as Symbian and Palm to work with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server (BES).

Does this make RIM stupid as no one will ever develop for BlackBerry and the PlayBook? Not stupid. RIM and others who see advantages to writing native apps can do that while the majority of us who normally wouldn’t consider PlayBook can now make our apps run on the device.

As for only supporting the phone version of Android, version 2.3, well duh. Google hasn’t released version 3.0 to developers yet so RIM can’t make an emulator from it. And that leads us right to…

Google “Closes” Android 3.0

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Google hasn’t released Honeycomb, its first tablet version of Android (3.0) to developers yet and the developer community is up-in-arms that Google is finally showing that Android is a closed platform, not an open one.

I have used open source software for years now, primarily on our web servers but often in source code. Traditionally open source software appeals mostly to the techno-geeks among us, not to consumers.

Google has to walk a fine line here. Android, after all, is an OS used by consumers (unlike most Linux installs which are used by technologists) and they need it to work well for those customers. Putting out half-baked code that was rushed to market, as Google claims was the case to get a tablet out there, doesn’t help anyone except the technologists who feel they should be able to play with the source code. (The fact that Google released half-baked code is another issue entirely.)

I take Google at their word on this. They have some work to do to clean it up and then will release it openly. Could Google have a developer track release and an official release as suggested by Watts Martin over at Coyote Tracks? Yes but they don’t (for reasons they haven’t made public).

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