There’s this flood of new Android phones hitting the market; we’re starting to see some new form factors and hardware setups. I’m hearing concerns here and there about the market “splintering”, making the platform less attractive to developers. Only I don’t buy it. [Update: Yes, really.]
[Update:] Hah! Assorted bloggers including John Gruber and Russ Beattie, not to mention pretty well all my commenters, think either that I’m off-base on splintering or that Android is too little too late, some of the opinions ranging well into Android-is-already-a-pathetic-failure territory.
So, upon further review... I haven’t changed my mind. I respect some of those people but I still think that app incompatibility is not going to be that big a deal in Android-land, that there is way more right than wrong with the platform, and that its market share will grow steadily for at least the next two or three years.
There; stake in the ground. I’ve eaten my share of words in the course of my career, and it could happen again. But Android just smells good to me.
I’m pretty sure anybody who’s been to the mat with the Android APIs shares my unconcern. First of all, a high proportion of most apps is just lists of things to read and poke at; another high proportion of Android apps are decorated Google maps and camera views. I bet most of those will Just Work on pretty well any device out there. If you’re using elaborately graphical screens you could do that in such a way as to be broken by a different screen shape, but it seems to me that with just a little work you can keep that from happening.
Oh, and the executable file format is Dalvik bytecodes; independent of the underlying hardware.
Here’s what I think: First of all, Android is still one of the most important platforms out there for the next few years. Second, we still haven’t seen a truly great Android phone (the Droid’s not it). It’s going to be interesting.