Mark Murphy on the Complexity of Android

Each passing Android release layers complexity on top of complexity…[a]nd I’m not even talking about creating sizzling apps that will wow the VCs, but just garden-variety stuff.

Ordinarily, this is where I’d pipe up and say that the community needs to lead. However, in this case, the complexity issue is fundamental to Android. While the community could cook up a library of app and interaction templates, Google won’t help spread it, since Google has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that developers even exist, let alone contribute…[i]f Google won’t help promote community-led solutions, Google needs to solve the complexity problem itself, or suffer the inevitable consequences (Symbian, anyone?).

Mark Murphy

I really do believe that those working on the Android SDK are sincere about wanting it to be a great development platform. Unfortunately, however, that desire is at odds with other motivations inside the behemoth that is Google:

  1. Continuing high-volume distribution through a remarkable number of OEM and carrier partners.
  2. Blazing pace of innovation to become perceived as the market leader for mobile operating systems.

The end result is that Google has quickly become the market share leader for smartphones and evolved Android into a very compelling mobile operating system…to consumers.

Meanwhile, developers don’t know how to make sense of the umpteen Android devices on the market (including the tablets on the way), have given up on carriers that keep consumers on old operating systems, and are frustrated with trying to keep up with the Android flavor of the month. These are the reasons why, that despite Google’s market-leading device position, the demand for building Android applications is amazingly low compared to iOS.