Developers flock to Android, but is openness to thank?

This post is part of a series leading up to an upcoming Connected Planet feature story on Open Mobile. Road to Open: Read part 1 HERE.

Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform has been trumpeted as the beacon of openness and — for the most part — it has lived up to the hype. Although criticized for limiting access to its software development kit, Android is proving to be relatively easy and inexpensive to develop fpr. As a newer platform, it may take awhile for developers to flock to it as they did to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, but there is no doubt they are coming, said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing for Flurry Analytics.


According to Flurry, which provides analytics for the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, JavaME and Google Android, there was an unprecedented 94% increase in application project starts within its system by Android developers between September and October projected totals. Flurry does have relationships in place with both Motorola and T-Mobile, but it also attributed the increase to last week’s launch of the Motorola Droid. The company has about 500 developers signed up to its Android analytics tools so far.

“Technical guys can explain why open is so significant, but at the end of the day, we are still talking about a marketplace, the vendors that make the products and making money,” Farago said. “Open versus closed doesn’t matter to a developer. What matters is how easy I can submit and get apps approved. There is less friction with Android versus iPhone, but if the carrier is a 10 on friction, Apple was already at three. What is Android is going to be — a one or two?”

On Android, Farago said it is easier to get apps posted, and quality control is done more so after the fact than before, like with Apple. It is also handset- and carrier-agnostic, so literally anyone can develop for it. And with dozens of Android handsets planned over the next year, that could also play a significant role in how it fares against the lone iPhone in terms of revenue-generating potential for developers, he said.

“It mirrors the PC model,” Farago said. “It’s highly accessible, and that is as important as any notion of ‘openness.’ Android is easy to develop on, it’s cheap to get applications up and running and potentially easy to make money on it.”

Update: Flurry, which already has a relationship in place with T-Mobile, today signed up AT&T as a customer. Flurry will provide analytics to content providers in AT&T’s Developer Program.

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