App developers, stop being iSheep!

February 7, 2011 § 1 Comment

Look, I get it. The iPhone is pretty. It makes cute little noises. It’s gotten a lot of hype, and now, it’s getting a whole ‘nuther network to work on.

But let’s take a look at reality here: there are an awful lot of people who don’t want to switch their cell phone provider. There are an awful lot more that don’t want to be tied to an Apple product that Apple will likely stop supporting before their contract is up.

My love affair with Apple ended badly, so yes, I’m a little bitter, but app developers who are trying to reach a wide audience need to realize that the iPhone isn’t the end-all, be all, of mobile platforms.  In face, Blackberry has been around a lot longer, and those users are getting screwed worse than Android users.

I’m an Android user by necessity. I didn’t want to pay AT & T’s ransom
rates for mobile. At the time, Sprint suited my needs. Now the iPhone is on the carrier with the second highest rates, and I still don’t feel the need to switch. I’ve become an Android fanboy. My Android does pretty much everything I want it to do, and I don’t have to jailbreak it to get it to play a custom ringtone when I get a text message. But guess what? If I do want to root it (the Android version of jailbreaking), it’s pretty straightforward and easy to do.

My beef here is with the app developers, though, so let me get into that.

The TCEA conference is happening currently in Austin, and guess what? There’s an app for that! And there was an app last year, but only for the iPhone. This year, they’ve added an Android app, and, you guessed it, it doesn’t work like the iPhone one.

If it’s a difference in app layout, that’s one thing, but having things that function correctly on one platform, but not on another (and that usually only goes one way, if you know what I mean) just frustrates people.

Here’s another example: in my district, we use FirstClass for email (they call it a “communications platform,” but let’s face it, it’s email.) They’ve had an iPhone app for the last year and a half. When the iPad came out, they had an app for that within a month. Guess when their Android app is coming out?

That’s right…it hasn’t yet. And notice the date on that tweet? It’s been 2 months since that little exchange. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me they’re “real close” to being finished with something, it usually means it’s a matter of days. Maybe a week. Not MONTHS.

And did I mention Blackberry? We’ve had administrators in our district with Blackberries since before the iPhone came out, and yet, FirstClass doesn’t have a Blackberry app yet, either. Oh sure, there’s a way to sync your FirstClass account with a Blackberry, but the setup is just obnoxious. And you have to buy 3rd party software to do it.

Talk about not knowing your customers.

Look, it’s going to come down to the same old fight we’ve been having for years about platform. It doesn’t matter whether you have a PC, Mac, Linux, etc. If the software doesn’t work, and work the same way on all platforms, it’s never going to be adopted.

Sure, there will always be some platform specific software, like iMovie, but if you’re an app developer and you want to reach as wide of an audience as possible, the only way to develop is cross platform and launch cross platform.

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