Google Firing Up Android Developers With Goodies - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
07:50 PM

Google Firing Up Android Developers With Goodies

The search giant is looking to poach content creators away from competitors by offering new tools, application contests, and an open market for distributing apps.

Google Android-powered HTC Magic
(click image for larger view)
Google Android-powered HTC Magic

Most high-end smartphones aren't going to differ much in their specs, but the key differentiator will increasingly be the software and apps on the device. Google said it sees this trend, and it's trying to empower Android developers by offering another application contest, an open channel of distribution, and a powerful set of tools.

During a roundtable session at the Google I/O conference, Eric Chu, group marketing manager with Google's Android group, said the company is trying to build a strong ecosystem for its mobile platform to compete with the likes of the iPhone, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian.

To encourage developers, the search giant has launched its second Android Developer Challenge. This contest will give up to $250,000 to content creators in multiple app categories, and Android users will also have a chance to vote on which app wins by downloading a special program from Android Market. The search company also rewarded the 4,000 conference attendees with a free HTC Magic handset and a SIM card that has 30 days of free voice and data services.

For casual game-maker Playfish, Android is an attractive platform because of its Internet connectivity, OpenGL framework, and the open nature of the Android Market. Sebastiaen de Halleux, chief operating officer of Playfish, said his company is happy to see a way to get its mobile content directly to consumers without having to sign high revenue-sharing agreements with carriers.

"Any platform that promotes open distributions gets brought up to the top priority," said de Halleux.

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