7 Comments

Summary:

Google’s new App Inventor could create a wave of new apps to serve as vehicles for mobile advertisements. But with Android Market already developing a Wal-Mart-like reputation, the do-it-yourself developer kit needs to produce apps people really use — and ones advertisers will really pay for.

Earlier this week, Google released tools designed to help non-programmers build their own apps on the Android platform. The move is consistent with Google’s strategy of boosting worldwide consumption of mobile data. As I wrote at GigaOm Pro today, though App Inventor is unlikely to be used by many novices to produce compelling smartphone applications in the near-future, in the long-term, it could be a game-changer.

As TechCrunch documents here, “App Inventor is essentially a two-part tool: Designer is a web page that enables users to add buttons, text fields and other components; Blocks Editor is a Java application that allows users to do drag-and-drop coding. Google has given users access powerful tools such as GPS information, accelerometers and social components.”

Google is an advertising company, of course, and App Inventor is designed to expand Android’s developer community and to increase usage of mobile data, therefore increasing Google’s opportunities for mobile advertising. Android’s growth in the ad space is now more crucial than ever, thanks to the emergence of Apple’s iAd, an aggressive play by Apple to leverage the dominance of the iPhone by delivering ads through apps and on the mobile web. Apple’s App Store teems with 200,000-plus offerings, more than three times as many as Android Market. And iOS claims more than 43,000 registered developers, according to a recent report by AppStore HQ, while only about 10,000 coders are building atop Android.

App Inventor is an obvious effort to boost production and inventory of mobile applications, which would help Google in the battle for in-app advertising it’s currently fighting with Apple. But it’s easier said than done.

Creating anything beyond the simplest (read: least compelling) apps isn’t easy with App Inventor, as TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid noted: Unless you’re looking to make an extremely basic application, you’re going to have to read through the documentation. In some cases even the existing tutorials won’t be enough.

App Inventor will surely allow some creative non-programmers to build apps that are actually innovative, but many will likely be the kinds of apps Google highlights in its video demonstration — an image of a cat that meows when the screen is touched. In other words, the most likely short-term result of Google’s do-it-yourself development kit will be an increase in the kind of third-rate apps that already plague Android Market. That’s not good news for the countless Android users already frustrated by the search for apps that suit their needs amid the stacks of crappy titles in Android Market. App Inventor will surely help non-programmers build me-too offerings for every fart simulator or sex-position manual that already exist.

Apple’s App Store has serious flaws, to be sure, but the notorious App Store ferrets out much of the garbage, even if that process seems somewhat arbitrary. Google essentially refuses to employ any filter whatsoever. Fattening Android Market with junk might not only slow Android’s recent momentum with consumers, it might make advertisers think twice about where they spend their advertising dollars. Google’s storefront is already developing a reputation as an inferior outlet for inferior apps That’s not an image advertisers want to tie their brands to.

The long-term strategy behind App Inventor, then, is simple: Create more places where Google can place ads and generate revenue, and build on Android’s momentum by opening the platform even to dilettantes. The problem, though, is in the value of the new inventory: Deep-pocketed advertisers won’t let their high-profile brands be soiled by appearing in third-rate apps; Android Market is already developing a Wal-Mart-like reputation. App Inventor could be a huge lift for Google, but only if it helps produce apps that people really use — and inventory advertisers will really pay for.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy of flickr user Tom Raftery.

    1. I don’t think advertisers should be concerned about the quality of the app unless they are selling the app. The quality of the app is not perceived as related to the service.

    2. The deep pockets are not necessarily where google intends to reach. They have a history of going for the long tail.

    3. An app you invent for your needs is going to be custom fit to you… and if app inventor opens up and is well received, there will be a lot more developers in Android than Apple. If it is based in Scratch, than you could have some developers in elementary school.

    Share
  1. I am very excited for the App Inventor. We may see some creative things come from people who otherwise have been struggling to create an app. I really hope that Google creates better filters for the App Market. It’s a stuggle to find anything decent and it’s completely unfair to developers who have made great apps.

    Share
  2. google is correctly characterized as an ad broker company than an advertising company.

    Share
  3. Google is a Advertisment Company and a Search Engine Company they should have the knowledge how to rank apps in a way so that they let everything into the app store, but show the user only what she is looking for on the first view pages.

    Through the collected advertisment data they should know which Apps are realy used and therefore obvously usefull, and which are only downloaded once and never used again.

    Share
  4. [...] a market for tablets that other manufacturers have futilely tried to tap over the years. And Apple raised the stakes in the mobile advertising game with iAd, an ad platform unveiled that was unveiled in the second [...]

    Share
  5. I think that this will make people want to purchase Android more when they realize that if they can’t find it on the Market, they can try to make it themselves/. Apple and Google have the same problems when it comes to their market, both have an unbelievable amount of repeats of the same apps and only three are worth getting, plus 90% of the purchase apps are worse then the free ones. by allowing the users to build apps that they want it will be more about perfecting the app for themselves and if others like it as well they’ll download it, I doubt that many people are going to waste time in making a pointless app just to stare at the negative comments about it.

    Share
  6. It might also be worth mentioning that this runs from a browser. If I am let into the Beta program I can tell you how this compares to regular Android development (fingers crossed).

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post