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Hey, Google: Please don’t destroy Android!

In the spirit of Tomi Ahonen’s open letter to Steve Ballmer and Microsoft on their lack of a proper mobile strategy (albeit a lot more friendly than Tomi’s), I feel the need to write this letter to you Google.  Android has generated more excitement among the developer community than anything besides the iPhone.  You even had people believing strongly that Android would take over and dominate the Smartphone market place.  Motorola bet the farm on you, and HTC and SonyEricsson were pumping out sexy new devices, and even Verizon decided to spend $100m in a couple of months marketing one device. Almost unheard of.  But now you need to see the warning signs: Follow the flow of money and see that it is running away from you!

Granted, Apple enjoys the benefit of running an entire eco-system, even down to their own retail stores.  You have made Android open, which is a major advantage of course, but you are now in the process of making crucial mistakes. Those mistakes I might add have been made by the likes of Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and others , so you are in good company.  So what are those mistakes?  Well some of the ones you need to fix ASAP are:

1) Mobile AND Online market place. Why is it that SonyEricsson is so far the only one who has figured out the success criteria that made iTunes so successful (and I will give Microsoft credit for adding online purchasing ability on Windows Mobile marketplace a few weeks ago, but where are the apps?)?  It is right there. I am sure you can download it on your computer and try it out – and it should be obvious.  So why do you not have an online AND mobile store?  So you may not want to create a full installable app like iTunes, but why can I not buy apps on iPhone users may prefer to use the on device appstore, but I guarantee you most will use both, and will certainly sync their device with a computer frequently (which automatically launches iTunes btw, providing Apple with an opportunity to sell).

2) Upgrading. No iPhone user ever asks how do I upgrade my phone’s software. It is done automatically without the user having to worry about it.  Don’t leave this to manufacturers, as they will screw it up.   OS upgrade should be seamless, and the phone and applications should work seamless after the upgrade.

3) Marketing. This may not be an issue now, as the market place selection is limited, but when you have thousands of apps, you must allow developers and easy way to market their apps and trigger a purchase!  It took a while before the eco system of advertising for iPhone apps developed, but now you have players like LinkShare allowing you to market apps directly, AdMob (which you now own) establishing an ad swap exchange, players like Greystripe selling in-game ads which link to the appstore etc.  This is an area you excel in, and I am sure you will fix. But honestly, you should have had a head start here from day one.

Android has the potential to be THE smartphone platform, and the implementations of the UI that are coming out are stunning, and will surely help to sell phones. But people now have come to expect that with a Smartphone there needs to be a huge selection of apps and services. This will not come if the developers are giving up on you. It’s time to step up to the plate and change this.  Here is an idea you can use (no charge):  Give away free ad word credits for developers wanting to market their apps.  Trust me.  If you build it, they will come.

Posted in The Business of Mobile.

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