At TechCrunch today Michael Arrington, a proud Android user since splitting with Apple over their lack of support for Google Voice, had this to say about the dangers of handset developers creating divergent Android versions for each phone…
We’ve spoken with a number of high profile Android application developers. All of them, without exception, have told me they are extremely frustrated with Android right now. For the iPhone, they build once and maintain the code base. On Android, they built once for v.1.5, but are getting far less installs than the iPhone.
And now they’re faced with a landslide of new handsets, some running v.1.6 and some courageous souls even running android v.2.0. All those manufacturers/carriers are racing to release their phones by the 2009 holiday season, and want to ensure the hot applications will work on their phones. And here’s the problem – in almost every case, we hear, there are bugs and more serious problems with the apps.
There are whispers of backwards and forwards compatibility issues as well, making the problem even worse.
More than one developer has told us that this isn’t just a matter of debugging their existing application to ensure that it works on the various handsets. They say they’re going to have to build and maintain separate code for various Android devices. Some devices seem to have left out key libraries that are forcing significant recoding efforts, for example. With others, it’s more of a mystery.
Imagine if Windows developers had to build different versions of their applications for different PC manufacturers. Or even different versions for various models by a single manufacturer. That’s what some Android developers are saying they are facing now.
Imagine it? Not hard, sounds like much the situation Windows Mobile found itself in at times with these same vendors. What comes around, goes around.