Fragmented Android App Market Situation May be a Good Thing in the Short Term

Interesting article in Forbes.com although I don’t agree with its conclusions…

Android App Market Splinters

Here are the main points from the article and my commentary:

– Google Android Market only services Android power phones. Other Android-based devices like tablets and ebook readers (e.g., the B&N nook) are left out. My comments: “So far” and “it may not matter”. What’s to stop Google from expanding its form factor support?

– Manufacturers and software vendors are building their own app stores. My comment: This may not be a bad thing. And, it may be a good thing for vertical/narrow market vendors like Archos and B&N. It gives them an Apple-like tighter control and some assurance for end-users that any given Android app in the store will actually run correctly on their device (a tablet, e-book reader, or some other non-phone Android-based device).

– Handset makers are setting up app shops (like the rumored Motorola Shop4apps). My comment: If any specific handset (perhaps the Motorola Droid) becomes a flagship Android device, this may be a good way to make sure apps that showcase a specific device’s strengths is easy to find in an obvious place by non-techies.

– Third party app stores sell Android apps. GetJar and Handango are specifically mentioned in the article. My comment: Both are long running established mobile app sellers. Experienced smartphone users (Android or not) are apt to recommend one or both of these sources to their non-techie friends. This may be a good thing for the new Android owner.

Google has done, in my opinion, a poor job of developing the Android Market. App discovery on the phone is possible but tedious. Google’s desktop browser site is near useless. Perhaps this awfulness is by choice as a means to encourage third parties to develop better solutions.

This fragmentation may be a good thing in the short term. It may let multiple market models develop in parallel. Competitive pressures will drive the better run markets to become better and useful while poorer designs fade away.