Google's $10M, no, $100M Android Challenge

Google's $10M, no, $100M Android Challenge

Summary: So does Google have anything up its sleeve, when it comes to the Android mobile communications platform?It better have.

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So does Google have anything up its sleeve, when it comes to the Android mobile communications platform?

It better have. Because expectations keep getting lowered. And Apple keeps raising the ante, at least in getting attention for new mobile applications.

According to a Forbes.com dispatch Thursday Google “will probably announce the finalists for its Android developer contest sometime in late July or early August.”

It was supposed to be July 21. But bet on the results of this second round of the challenge being August 5, based on the note posted in Googling Google on … July 19.

But a few more days is not going to grab the hype cycle back from Apple, which launched its iPhone App Store two weeks ago. That store now has, in the market, more than 500 apps that are pushing the envelope in what a mobile phone can do and doing it mostly to applause (once the phone is running on a network and when not running out of juice).

Meanwhile, Google’s $10 million Android developer challenge has anointed 50 apps as worthy of being promoted for the new set of open source phones it hopes to spawn.

But where are the phones?

Sergey and Larry get to walk around with one, purportedly. But no manufacturer has put one out there.

T-Mobile may – may -- get one out this year, but Sprint Nextel, China Mobile and other makers are looking at 2009 launches.

The biggest U.S. carriers, AT&T and Verizon, seem in no rush to get behind the Android alliance. AT&T is doing just fine right now with the iPhone. And Ivan Seidenberg at Verizon says even the iPhone is not a big deal.

The challenge here is for someone to make an Android-based phone that has better hardware guts than the iPhone or better pieces to swap in and out so that developers can produce better apps than iPhone apps.

But so far, the developers are working with a developer’s kit. Not real phones, ready to bring to market.

That’s got to change, before anyone gets excited about any of the Android apps announced on August 5.

Or Google’s hopes to best Apple (or anybody else) in spawning cool or useful mobile communications.

Maybe Google needs to launch a $100 million challenge … to hardware developers, to get them excited.

Topics: Software Development, Android, Google, iPhone, Mobility, Telcos

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12 comments
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  • I think that Google also needs to make their own self branded phone.

    They can not depend on existing manufacturers to do it for them. But, after the Google phone takes off, Google might decide to get out of the market.
    DonnieBoy
  • It will be many years before it is "too late".

    The current size of existing cell phone users is HUGE. Apple is certainly delivering the hottest product out there, kudos to them, but even at current sales rates, they won't have more than 5% marketshare (you do know there are 2billion phones in use today?) in a couple of years. That's 100M phones folks.

    So as long as they get it to market in the next couple of years, they can get into the replacement upgrade market quite nicely.

    It all comes down to the phone, the hardware, and the software. If the hardware is lame, it won't sell, it has to have the same "cool" factor as iPhone. If the phone part isn't great (quad band, etc), it won't sell. Finally, if the software is not better, it won't sell (at the numbers Apple does). I certainly would not handicap Google though, they do software very well.

    There is another factor. With Linux projected to hit 70M users this year worldwide, iPhone is a non starter. Who wants a phone you can't use officially. I think people are starting to see that yes, Linux people are very supportive AND have wallets. :D

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Don't discount Apple's leveraging of its iPod monopoly

      One of the big selling points of the iPhone is that it is an iPod. iPods have a marketshare in the PMP market as big as MS does in the OS market. MS was punished for leveraging its desktop OS monopoly in order to try and break into the server market. Apple should be punishing for leveraging its PMP monopoly in order to try and break into the cell phone market. No one but Apple is allowed to create an iPod cell phone. No one but Apple is allowed to create a cell phone that can communicate with iTMS. No one but Apple is allowed to create a cell phone that syncs with iTunes.

      [i]It all comes down to the phone, the hardware, and the software.[/i]

      And this is where I fear you are wrong. The winner will [b]not[/b] be the best cell phone, I fear it will be the device that is tied to a monopoly in a different market.

      [i]I think people are starting to see that yes, Linux people are very supportive AND have wallets.[/i]

      I sincerely hope you are right. While I continue to be happy with my current WM phone, I'll be watching closely for Android phones. I think the potential is huge. :)
      NonZealot
      • RE:

        [i]No one but Apple is allowed to create a cell phone that can communicate with iTMS. No one but Apple is allowed to create a cell phone that syncs with iTunes.[/i]

        This isn't entirely true, if you remember a few years ago, motorola or someone made a phone that had itunes capability. It was a failure, but it was there.
        zdnet@...
        • Apple didn't have the iPhone back then

          Apple did grant a license to Motorola but there is no way Apple will ever do the same now that they have the iPhone. Hopefully the EU can step in and force Apple to license their technology to others, just like they forced MS to license their client/server protocols.
          NonZealot
        • SLVR, s7 - don't use iTunes. Running water more important.

          I use one w/ATT. Phone does MP3 also, but its locked out on mine. I bought it when my old phone died and it was new, thin, and quad-band. 99% use is as a phone, like most of the world.

          Most of the world needs/wants cheap, not kewl. Huge cell sales growth are for developing markets in China, Africa, Asia, India etc. for people whom running water and heat are luxuries. Connecting to Facebook, downloading apps/music, and uploading to their blog fall below food, clothing, health, and education as priorities. Even below getting their daily half-caff, no-fat, venti latte.

          Where people need something new to buy, a Swiss Army Knife with yet more blades can entertain them and perhaps get used. A few people might find one or two apps of value that they can't get on other phones.

          Here is where a standardized platform wins. Its easier to satisfy lots of small niches, and over time some apps could foster new paradigms and value.
          markk02474@...
      • Do you ever tell the truth?

        Or do you just stretch the truth to try and prove some
        point you never have???

        [i]No one but Apple is allowed to create an iPod cell
        phone. No one but Apple is allowed to create a cell phone
        that can communicate with iTMS. No one but Apple is
        allowed to create a cell phone that syncs with iTunes.[/i]

        Not really true is it. I think Mot did that. Failed but it was
        a poor design. You would think Nokia had done it instead.

        You are right on one point, the phone is only part of the
        equation. The entire Eco-System will become critical.
        Bruizer
        • white headphones

          You can recognize simple minds by the color of their headphone.
          emenau
  • RE: Google's $10M, no, $100M Android Challenge

    You may be right that $100M challenge will excited hardware developers to be drawn into this "android panacea" even though i don't see this happening in the forseable future. With the popularity of the apple iphone 3G, i don't see google been in a rush to material the android: Google & the Open Handset Alliance: So What About Video?(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=526&doc_id=138718&F_src=flftwo)
    jamalystic
  • RE: Google's $10M, no, $100M Android Challenge

    Let's be real here. They offered ANYONE to do the challenge. If it isn't taking off, then what better way to have Google decide if they want to have Android distributed. It really would be too bad if it was dumped. It was developed from the bottom to catch malware, spam and malicious software. That's the way it should be. The basic OS is sitting at the bottom waiting to find bad code.

    They won't do their own phone. The challenge was the test.
    atari8bit@...
  • ANdroid - Googles dumbest move ever.

    The only thing dumber is the people that jumped on board.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • Don't declare winners before testing on the real phone!

    Your point about the developers working with the SDK, not
    real phones is very relevant ("But so far, the developers are
    working with a developer's kit. Not real phones, ready to
    bring to market."). Mobile phones aren't just software on a
    standard platform, as most PCs are today. Take the camera
    for instance: it dramatically varies from one camera phone
    to another, not just in its resolution, but also in optical
    performance, depth-of-field, focus range, in the file
    format it generates (does it make RAW accessible to Sw
    apps, or just JPG?), and many more.

    Selected as one of the 50 finalists of the Android
    challenge, Android Scan is one of the most highly
    misleading applications. Although it has contributed to the
    education of the market about the potential of reading 1D
    bar codes on a camera phone, it uses an external mini-DV
    camcorder connected to the PC that runs the SDK. Reality
    will never match this. The mini-DV camcorder that was
    used has abilities beyond what will ever be present on
    mass market camera phones for a very long time. Its
    depth-of-field for instance, as can be observed in the
    video posted on the application author's website, is in a
    different league.

    As it stands, the key to reading bar codes with a camera
    phone is the absence of blur (as blur merges the lines to
    be read thus garbling the code beyond readability). Only a
    very limited number of camera phones feature camera
    modules with the right combination of autofocus and
    macro modes that make it possible (note: the decoding
    itself is an easy problem to solve as it is available as open
    source -- Android scan uses Google's own zebra xing
    reader which can only read focussed bar code images).

    So, unless the Google phone comes out with a very high
    end camera module, Android Scan will not go beyond what
    it is today: a common sense (even if smart) assembly of
    tested and proven technologies that are not going to be
    available on a single mobile platform to anybody soon.

    Google should wait for the finalists to port their
    applications onto the real-world phone and only then see
    if they have anybody left with a usable application that can
    be declared a winner.
    Bblima