Android Apps: Google Gives Developers a Tablet Push
A growing number of Android tablet devices are coming onto the market. But before they can mount a serious challenge to Apple's iPad, more tablet-optimized Android apps will need to be available for them, which is why Google is pitching its case to the developer community for more Android tablet apps.
How well this push succeeds could be crucial to the future of Android tablets. And that could in turn shape the ecosystem that IT departments at midsize firms will face in the mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and consumerization eras. Open source Android offers firms more flexibility than iOS and comes without Apple's heavy hand. But Android tablets need apps in order to be fully competitive with the iPad.
As Casey Newton observes at CNET, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a point during his public appearances of scoffing at Android tablets. Among his talking points: a lack of apps for them to run.
The problem for Android tablet makers and users - and therefore for Google - is not a shortage of Android apps overall. According to Google, some 675,000 of them are available. But most of them are designed for Android smartphones. They will run on Android tablets, but they don't take advantage of the tablets' larger screens.
That is why Google is leaning on Android app developers to offer more tablet-optimized apps. "Take advantage of extra screen area available on tablets," is one suggestion the company is making. In a blog post, they also offered "developer stories" - noting, for example, that roomy tablet screens make it easier for app developers to engage and retain their customers.
Google also points out that Instapaper - a big hit on the iPad - is now also available for Android. And most downloads of Instapaper for Android are for Android tablets.
Breaking Out of the Walled Garden
Thanks to its head start, the iPad still has overwhelming dominance of the tablet market. Credible Android tablets are just starting to appear, but for them to gain real headway, they will need apps that take advantage of their capabilities. If these apps don't appear, Android tables could stall out and fade. Hence, Google's new push.
And the stakes are significant for the IT community at midsize firms. The BYOD trend, as it develops, will likely be at least as much about tablets as smartphones, because you can do a lot more on a tablet's larger screen.
Android has a couple of advantages for IT. One is positive: its open source flexibility. The other is negative: its freedom from Apple's heavy hand. But it will only be able to reach its potential if Google's push for tablet-optimized apps is acted on by Android developers.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.