Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Totalgeek » Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:35:31 GMT

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 etting in on a shoestring budget with Android development and wooing
hobbyist developers seems hard.

I come from an Iphone development background. I develop mostly free to
small applications. I'm interested in developing for the Google
Android, but I'm interested in poising this question to the group. For
someone like me, I'm going to say small->hobby developer, is cross-
platform mobile development out of the question? Please read on as I'm
thoroughly interested in exploring this subject matter. Bit of a
background I have a job, java programmer so I already see that I maybe
able to re-use my existing skill set, and develop mobile applications
on the side. I'm relatively new to the field but I was impressed with
how the Iphone's on screen keyboard worked. I was one of the first
TMobile G1 adapters and liked it for quite some time until I got my
hands on an Iphone, I believed you always needed a keyboard of sorts
but the Iphone put that to rest for me. I would like to move back to
Android, I just didn't feel it with the G1 and it left a bad taste in
my mouth. But some of the new spec'd devices look great and would like
to love the Android like I do with other Google products.

I'm interested in doing cross platform development. I'm not rich nor a
big company, is there room for someone like me to get onto the Android
development wagon? Or, is all this hoopla targeted towards the big
development houses? one thing I thought with mobile computing is that
it leveled the playing field, but as more and more big development
houses come on board our chances of success as an indie developer
pretty much goes to nil. There is no way I can compete with the big
houses on development or marketing budgets. But my biggest cost to
entry and I see this for other developers is Apple has time and a
large amount of "invested" Iphone developers.

What I mean by invested is in order to get started, let's take the
minimum legitimate route you require a Mac thats $599 minimum only if
you have a compatible monitor,mouse, and keyboard for the Mac Mini.
The $99 yearly membership fee for the Iphone development program. Then
books and/or classes, I got by with 2 books. On top of that the cost
of an Iphone and its monthly associated cell bill. You can see the
typical person already is invested $1000+. This is nothing to big
house development companies but for us small time to hobby developers
(I would be happy to make $1 to $2 a day) developing on 2 platforms is
not cost prohibitive.

This question is how willing is the Android platform willing to bring
over Iphone developers or does the platform care about us small time
developers? I'm thinking the answer is No, from my years in working in
the industry its always been the cliche of 'if you can't afford to
play, don't play'. But isn't it viable to think that the more
developers Android can garner the better it will be in terms of apps
and user satisifaction?

Below are some comparison and I'm asking for a fair, well thought out

-Hardware with Iphone you do deal with its 'generations' but for most
of the matter they're pretty close together and the OS releases
matches the hardware. How is the Android? I had a gripe with G1 when
they released the next model soon afterwards and it had Droid 2 and
some other hardware improvements I felt punished for being an early
adopter. This also brings up another topic of forked, or different

Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by String » Wed, 21 Apr 2010 05:38:16 GMT

 s a standalone developer, I see Android as being far more favorable
to indies than iPhone is. I develop for both, but I don't work for
anyone but myself. And I know which one I like better.

First, Android's upfront cost is far lower. You can use any computer
you like, there's no annual fee (as in $99 to Apple), and you have far
more flexibility on phone hardware. This may be less obvious to
someone like you who's already invested in the Apple side, but viewed
objectively, Android is a LOT cheaper to get into.

As for handset costs, stop thinking like a phone user and start
thinking like a developer. Don't buy into carrier contracts for your
dev handsets, and if you can't justify the cost of a new & unlocked
phone, then don't go that route. Ebay is your friend; pick up a used
Hero or MyTouch 3G and use it on WiFi. Except for work which
SPECIFICALLY requires cell coverage, that will be more than
sufficient. Or, what happened to your old G1?

And when your iPhone's contract is up, don't lock into a new one. In
the long run, contract-free is cheaper.

Moving on from cost, I would say that Android offers far more
opportunities for indie devs. Because the marketplace is an order of
magnitude smaller, there are a LOT of niches which are either
underserved or downright empty. In the iPhone App Store, OTOH, it's a
much harder battle to find and hold a customer base, because so many
more devs are fighting for a piece of every pie.

Platform fragmentation? Don't believe the hype. Most apps run just
fine across most Android versions, and when problems arise, they tend
to be minimal and the tools to solve them are there for you. The only
exception is if you want to use features released in the latest
version; these will unavoidably lock out earlier versions, but that's
always the way. Besides, looks like iPhone OS 4.0 is going to leave a
lot of older phones behind too.

Finally, I really think Google is more interested in small devs than
Apple is. Look at these forums - Googlers regularly contribute. Check
out the Android Developer Competitions - run by Google, mostly won by
indies. Look up "device seeding program" - that's Google giving out
top-shelf phones to thousands of developers. When's the last time
Apple did that? Google has also run a series of Android Developer Labs
where any Joe Dev can get their hands on a range of devices. These
seem to be in hiatus right at the moment, but they will likely start
up again.

Bottom line, do you want to stay locked into Apple's dictatorial
regime? Or would you like to join a community where developers are
treated like adults?


On Apr 20, 8:35pm, Totalgeek <> wrote:

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Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Peter Eastman » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 02:55:02 GMT

 > Then books and/or classes, I got by with 2 books.

I got by with no books at all. :)

Especially if you already know Java, learning Android development is
very easy.  Just go to 
and read through the documentation there.  At that point you'll have a
pretty good knowledge of the basics.  For more details, click on the
Reference tab to get the javadocs, and the forums here are also a good
resource.  There definitely are holes in the documentation, and a good
book might well help.  But it's hard to beat the cost of getting
started with Android development: $0 for the online documentation plus
$0 for the emulator.  And since you've already got a G1, you can even
test on a real device without spending any money.  There certainly are
better Android phones available, but you can wait on that until you're
certain you want to make a bigger commitment.



Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by niko20 » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 04:26:10 GMT

 My 2cents:

I'm a "hobby" developer myself but I've started to make it my little
side business. When I first started on android I didn't know what to
expect yet but its turned out pretty well. if you have a good idea you
can do well financially as well. I've made a very large sum on my app
already in the last year.

I created my first program to go on the market completely in the
emulator. In fact it was entirely emulator until November when the
DROID came out and I finally got one. After that I only made a few
small adjustments to my app to make it fit the screen better, and
added recording ability to it, since the emulator doesn't work for
different recording rates.

Obviously though depending on the app you will need more real devices.



Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Sam Contapay » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 05:19:38 GMT

 Actually, I took the plunge thanks to some fine convincing by
"String". I grabbed an MyTouch 3G (no headphone jack) for a low $100.
Started developing on the platform last night from the very link you

I was able to port my super easy Apple app which just creates a
mudsplat on a picture to Android in an evening, with a lot of toying
around with the wife and son. Leveraging my existing knowledge in Java
was great and I felt good being able to generate an application so

I really have to hesitate using the G1 again. As I said it left a
really bad taste in my mouth. Made me switch to Iphone, the on screen
keyboard was never accurate enought. It was sluggish even with task
killing. Right now I have to admit the MyTouch is quickly changing my
mind on Android devices.


Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Sam Contapay » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 05:24:17 GMT

 That's why I'm asking where Google stands with the hobby developers?
I'm not here to make big money, don't get me wrong if it comes my way
great. But if I can turn a couple hundred a year I'm way more then

I did take the re-plunge so to speak snagged a cool MyTouch from
craigslist for only about $100. So far I'm really impressed and the
SDK has come a long way since I last downloaded it which I feel was
Jan 2009, no longer need DroidDraw as I see there is a built in XUL
editor now.

I already ported my simple learning app over from the Iphone, splats
mud on a picture and its not even random mud. Looking forward to
seeing what the Android holds.

However, I was a bit 'alarmed" last night when I try running an app
from Eclipse the emulator.exe says 'APPCRASH' on my Win 7 ultimate
box. If I start the emulator seperately with AVD then eclipse has no
problem hooking into it, deploying the apk, and running debug. I'm
just suprised at the slow startup time (I have an OC'd to almost 4Ghz
on air Wolfdale CPU) and the problem I'm having with emulator being
started by Eclipse.

With Xcode it was a seemless start from build to simulator.


Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Tobias Eisentraeger » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 05:24:55 GMT

 Wait till you get one with a snapdragon :o)

> >

Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Sam Contapay » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 05:39:05 GMT

 Woo, let's slow down a bit! :)

Those are nice and I would love the speedier response. If that's one
thing the Iphone did right it was user response, it just feels
'snappy'. And most are probably saying at the cost of multitasking.

I did ask the wife if I make a $100 can I get a new phone? She's great
that way, and so many other ways as well. But that's my target goal
for the year at least $200-$300 then I'll be happy and the hobby
investment is more then worth it. And that's what I mean as a hobbyist
developer that amount is not enought to live or run a business on but
I would consider it a success. That is why cost is important to me.

On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 2:24 PM, Tobias Eisentraeger

>> >

Barriers to entry for cross platform mobile development insight from a hobbyist

by Peter Eastman » Thu, 22 Apr 2010 06:01:20 GMT


Whichever phone you have, there's no need to settle for the standard
keyboard.  I use SlideIT, which is a huge improvement, but there are
lots of others to choose from also.  I think your MyTouch 3G comes
with Swype, which I've heard really good things about.  But that's one
of the great things about on screen keyboards - it's really easy to
get a new one if you don't like the one you have.



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