Two days ago I programmed my first Android app with Google’s App Inventor. Strike that, it is more accurate to say that I followed the instructions to create several apps using the tutorial. Still, the feeling I got when I uploaded the resulting apps into my Android phone, and seeing them work, filled me with the kind of exhilaration reserved for seeing an act of creation complete. Like baking a cake, knitting a scarf, or writing a poem.
I am currently playing with the inventor to create a LOLCat text generator for Gikii (stay tuned). Yes, I am perfectly aware that there are hundreds of such apps already in the market, but that is besides the point. I am writing such an app because I can. Is there any other reason for creativity?
Being able to write apps is a great way of differentiating Android from its main competitors in the smartphone market, namely Apple and Blackberry. As it has been mentioned ad nauseam in countless tech articles around the blogosphere, Apple runs a very strict app environment for the iPhone, iPad, and soon for the laptop and desktop scenes. This creates a more secure environment, but walled gardens tend to be sanitised ecosystems, where everything must meet the gate-keeper’s approval. Users will have to choose then between a more expensive solution that supposedly offers more security, and a vibrant and perhaps a bit more chaotic scene. Personally, I know which one I prefer, but your mileage may vary.
Ignoring personal preferences, I think that the more open model will eventually dominate. I am not saying that Apple’s walled garden will disappear, I think that Apple has a very strong and loyal clientèle who would buy a raw cucumber if it had an Apple logo on it. But I think that Android’s more open approach (it is not entirely open) will eventually win out as more people discover how easy it is to build an app. They will definitely want to share these with their friends. Besides, Android devices are cheaper, which I believe explains why Android is now dominating sales in the U.S.
Wait, no mention of Microsoft and Nokia you may say? Yes, no need to mention those two, at least for the foreseeable future. I am quietly amused that I now live in a country where Nokia dominates.