The Android Market is an Open Market, at least in the sense that anyone can publish apps to the market after paying their $25 registration fee. Once a publisher has joined the market they can upload apps that are available to users within 5 minutes. This is great when compared to the process of that fruity App Store that requires developers to submit their work for approval which can take days or even weeks to be approved and be available to users.
The drawback to the Android process is that their is no quality control, so a developer can submit a horribly flawed application or even an application that violates the terms of service. These applications are weeded out by natural selection in my opinion. A horrible app will get low ratings and reviews which will deter future users from installing it. Apps that violate the Market terms of service will get reported and eventually removed. My personal pet peeve about the open market is developers that upload 20 different versions of 1 single app and justify the upload by giving each app a different name/color scheme/skin. These developers would be much better off releasing a single polished app that has the ability to download different themes/skins, Beautiful Widgets does this and I personally think that it is the best app on the market.
The benefits are numerous. Quick time to publish is what I mentioned earlier and is the reason for writing this post. Last night Engadget released an update to their Android app. The update was nice, it is no longer a “fullscreen” application that hides the notification bar, which was my main complaint about their app. Also the app now offers a home screen widget. It is a nice looking widget that has the Engadget logo and displays article titles from the previous day. I like widgets, but like most people I had an issue with the Engadget widget. On Android widgets exist on the homescreen, widgets can take up however much space they want as long as they do it within a 4X4 grid. For example, a single shortcut to an application takes up a 1×1 space in that grid, the new “News and Weather” widget takes up a 4×1 space in that grid, and the Analog Clock widget takes a 2×2 space on that grid. The Engadget widget released last night has the appearance of a 4×1 size, but it actually took up a 4×2 space on the homescreen. Users were not happy because they wanted to use the widget and not have wasted space on their homescreen. Within an hour of release the Engadget article added an update letting users know that they were aware of the widget issue and they were working on a fix.
18 hours after the initial released of their app with widget support they released an update version fixing the issue. This simply would not have been possible through the fruity app store. Some may say “It was bugged in the beginning and the approval process would have caught it.” I disagree. There was nothing technically wrong with their widget implementation. It was not optimal, but it did its intended job. The issue was a mere matter of user preference, because it was just a preference issue I feel that it would have passed any approval processes.
There are literally thousands of Android developers that know the benefits of the open market, but rarely do we see a higher profile app publisher demonstrate an exact reason why the Andriod model works so well.