We’ve said it before (Bad Robot!), but after the Android 2.0/Nexus One developments, it really bears repeating: Google either do not understand or do not care about community once their immediate corporate goals have been met.

In the Bad Robot! blog, Greg commented on the disparity between Google’s talk of Android’s openness and their provision of early candidates of the cupcake release only to selected customers with NDAs. Google needed to get Android into the hands of developers to create the rich library of apps that would make Open Handset Alliance’s handsets attractive to customers and compete with the iPhone. Yet, by holding back on the releases, they left a lot of these developers in limbo, not knowing what the future held and being unable to plan how to allocate scarce resources or whether their work would even have to be thrown away. Bear in mind that most mobile developers are small companies or individuals, and so are greatly effected by this kind of treatment. Why screw with the very people you need for your success?

Eventually the cupcake release was made public and everyone picked themselves up, dusted off the software and got on with it. I, for one, was hoping that Google had learnt a lesson from the understandably angry reaction on the android developer lists. However, the launch of the Nexus One handset and Android 2.0 shows that Google have not. In fact, they probably weren’t even paying attention the first time around.

Other commentators have remarked upon the numerous ways in which Google’s release of their own-brand handset screws over their partners in the Open Handset Alliance and others in the industry, but what has been missed from most media commentary is the callous disregard Google have shown (again) for their developer “community” with Android 2.0. The fact is that the 2.0 release was announced on 27th October 2009, but yet it is still not available on the ADP1 development handset, and indeed may never be.

About a year ago developers were encouraged to pay $US500 for the handset in order to try out their apps on a real phone. In conjunction with HTC, the producer of the handset, Android updates for the ADP1 were made available for web download. Yet, despite repeated pleas from the community such as here and here, no release of 2.0 is forthcoming. Indeed, Google has not even had the courtesy to make an official announcement on the future of the ADP1.

So here we developers are again – cold shouldered by the corporate giant and yet expected to provide apps to lure customers to buy their phone. Google’s behaviour is also rather contemptuous of customers – some developers are receiving feedback that their widgets don’t work properly under 2.0, and yet are unable to recreate and fix the problem because there is no access to 2.0 on a dev handset.

So whilst I heartily agree with the rhetoric of Android and the Open Handset Alliance, I like the Android UI, API and linux/java-like platform, and I enjoy developing i-jetty, the realization of the rhetoric falls far, far short of what we should expect of a company like Google. Or …. is it exactly what we should expect of a company like Google?

This judge awards you nul points, Google.

Google Just Doesn't Understand Community

5 thoughts on “Google Just Doesn't Understand Community

  • January 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Close Down!
    My answer.
    –Or …. is it exactly what we should expect of a company like Google?

  • January 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    It is what you can expect from any corporate-run open source project. But, corporate resources are required to build a platform like Android for the time being. The fact that it’s open source at all puts it ahead of most platforms–not just on mobile devices where Cocoa Touch sets new lows, but computing in general.
    Even as a happy Droid customer and newbie Android developer, I hope that ADP1 owners are successful in petitioning Google. Neglecting your earliest members is no way to build a community.

  • January 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    If google had come out with a g-phone and then afterwards opened the platform, I don’t think there would have been any complaints. It would be great that they were giving access to their platform.

    But they did it the other way around. They created an “open” platform and made statements that lead others to believe that there would be some
    there would be some approximate level playing field – google would provide the central services and other vendors could compete on handsets and applications.

    Companies invested significant R&D dollars and now Google change the game and the playing field is anything but level. Google control the services which android is closely tied to. Google control the availability of the platform on the hardware they select to support and there are impediments to third party ports.

    I guess that is the risk these companies took, but Google should not be surprised if the next community effort they try to start has few takers.

  • January 10, 2010 at 3:34 am

    The so called “partners” had done nothing but crap in the last years. These partners only care about the quick money, not about the platform Android. And what they did was almost anytime wrong. They splitted the GUI (Sense), they sold crappy low-hardware devices, with tiny little SDcards, they build in tiny little amounts of Ram, leaving the user no other choice to delete apps to install others, the software devs build bloated, slow apps instead of optimizing their software, they don’t care about battery life, memory or anything. And finally the providers tried to bound the devices to their own networks, but not promoting Android, expect one.
    So there is only one conclusion, get the lead in their own hands, if others are incapable of doing so.
    I’m looking forward to see Google sell the phone, keep control of the hardware, and hopefully, making even more apps themselves.
    If you just want to make quick money, you might be wrong on Android.

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