Yesterday's announcement by Google that they will be selling their Nexus One Android handset online is a new, and important, deviation in the mobile market. While the obvious questions center around Google vs Apple in the phone market, the important thing for me is whether this will increase developer adoption of the Android platform? And in turn, is going to lead to a renewed focus for Java developers on the mobile market?
Last year's JavaFX For Mobile release was good, but I have yet to see some real follow-through in the industry. Maybe the JavaFX platform needs to see the Java Store take hold before we can see real results. Meanwhile, Google has been poising it's Android platform for greatness (and acceptance) by hosting two Android Developer Challenges. The second challenge in particular bred some innovative ideas. One of the overall winners of the competition, Sweet Dreams, shows how much control developers have over the phone:
SweetDreams is a revolutionary tool that will finally allow you to go to sleep without worrying about changing your phone settings in order to avoid unwelcome late night calls. You can even use those inactivity periods to save battery power as well, and of course forget about enabling WiFi, Bluetooth or ringtones volume every morning again. Thanks to SweetDreams activation filters all those settings will be automatically determined based on time, location and even other parameters such as sounds near the phone or movement!!! All of that is available for you in the same really easy to use application. Just set your filters and SweetDreams will do the job for you.
Compared with Apple's AppStore, the Android Marketplace doesn't offer as much, but maybe more developers will be drawn to take to Android's lower learning curve, than to use Objective-C to create iPhone applications. It will certainly be interesting to see if there is a big increase in the number of Android applications available in 4-6 months time. Maybe that will be the measure of Google's new phone strategy.
As for the marketting behind it all - I really like the idea of having the freedom to buy the phone unlocked rather than being tied to a service provider, but if you're outside of the US, UK, Singapore or Hong Kong, you'll have to wait to be able to buy it direct from Google's online store. For those in the US, BillShrink.com has done a total cost of ownership for the various smartphone options, and over 24 months the Nexus works out at $500 cheaper on average when pitched against the iPhone 3GS.
So, along with Motorola's Droid it's easier than ever to get your hands on an Android handset, and see your applications run on a real device rather than an emulator. If you are planning, or already do develop mobile applications, which platform would you go for? Does Google's announcement place a renewed emphasis on Java's place in the mobile industry?