Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Experts == Idiots?

It's sad, really, the state of technology journalism. But you knew that, already. I should know to enough ignore link-baiting crappy journalism, especially those that do little more than republish some company's press release. Most days, I do.

Not today, though.

Computerworld posted an article with this headline today: Devs bet big on Android over Apple's iOS.

Wow, really? That seems surprising. What could possibly justify such a claim? Some proof that developers are leaving iOS in droves? Some new data about the Android Marketplace is actually making decent money for a substantial portion of Android developers? No, though it is encouraging to see that the Marketplace opened up to 13 new countries today. Still another 60 or so to go, but it's a step in the right direction. But that fact's not even mentioned in this article.

So what justifies such a grandiose claim? A survey of Appcelerator Titanium developers commissioned by Appcelerator. Now, if you don't know, Appcelerator Titanium is a cross-platform framework that allows you to develop an app once and generate applications for multiple paltforms: iOS, Android, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.

Leaving aside my personal opinions about cross-platform tools, the article has already strayed from the headline. Devs? Well, sure, they're devs, but they're not representative of devs in general as the headline would imply. They're developers who have specifically chosen one option, and it's an option that doesn't tie them to a platform at all. We're talking about a group of people that have already shown their willingness to hedge their bets and who aren't about to take the risk of hitching their wagon to a single platform.

It's an inherently skewed sample. If you ran that same survey past 15,000 dedicated iOS developers, or dedicated Android or Blackberry or .Net developers, you'd get drastically different results.

In other words, this survey has no value whatsoever except to Accelerator. To them, it's perhaps useful for helping them decide where to devote their resources in the future to keep their clients happy.

But for the world at large? Worthless.

Oh, and what constitutes "betting big" in the context of the article? Well, it's not actually addressed, but their idea of "betting big" doesn't seem to match mine. There's nothing about investments, or exclusive agreements, or anything else that involves any sort of risk whatsoever. Developers were just asked things like "how interested are you in a platform X". The "betting" didn't involve monetary investments, or time investments. These developers did nothing more than state an opinion. An anonymous opinion. Oh… those crazy rebels.

Well, I'm "betting big" that the author of this post is a hack and his soi-disant "expert" is fucking clueless.

Let's face it, nobody knows for sure where the mobile market is headed, and being a Titanium Dev doesn't make your opinion any more informed or valuable than anyone else's. Personally, I suspect Android will continue to grow in market share unless Windows Phone 7 is better than great or else Microsoft manages to one-up Google's relationship with Verizon. But, any way you cut it, this is not a replay of the PC battles. There are too many companies still in the game and who have the potential to grow market share, profit share, or whatever other metric by which you want to judge.

Despite what you may read, there is no clear market leader. Nokia is still in the lead based on total handsets, Blackberry is still in the lead based on smartphone handsets sold, Apple is kicking ass in the profits department, and Android is doing gangbusters in new sales unit, if you lump all the 100+ models of Android phones together and count free phones as sales. Plus, the market is still growing. Apple, for example, didn't increase their market share at all year over year, but they increased their units sold considerably.

Understandably, many people are counting Microsoft out of the mobile game, but I'm not. Though I'm no fan of their technology stack or their approach to business, I think the sheer size of Microsoft's advertising budget, their Enterprise-savvy sales force, and the enormous pool of existing .Net developer talent they can draw on gives them an opportunity for huge inroads. They may not capitalize on it, but it's certainly there and counting Microsoft out of the wireless market would be as foolish as counting Apple out of the game 12 years ago was. And over at HP, lots of money and time is being invested into the Pre platform, which has not been a huge commercial success, but got pretty good grades with many developers who worked with it.

The game's afoot. It's going to be fun to watch, but if you are truly a betting person, this is what you might call a high-risk scenario.



15 comments:

partialclass said...

Funny how the headline claims devs are "betting big", yet the same devs are playing it safe in their choice of platform. The only thing they're betting on is growth in the mobile space.

BTW, I'm curious to hear your take on cross-platform development tools.

Hussein said...

Excellent post as usual, the sound of reason and mind.
I'm really getting tired of all those stupid biased articles.
We need more people like you Jeff.
I'm hardly waiting for your next book.
Thanks.

Pedro said...

Excellent post!

I bet on Microsoft over Android.

Android Marketplace is as bad as Ovi Store ...

Joshua said...

I'm not usually one to post a "attaboy" comment on a rant. However, this one is right on the mark. Like anyone else I end up reporting to my mom. She asks what I'm working on and I suddenly feel like I have to justify to measure up. Articles like this one make our focus on iPhone dev (I work as the creative director at Agile Poet in Austin) seem like a hard "mom sell."

Besides, it's just plain wrong...as in incorrect. In real truth, web apps are where the big investments are (HTML5 battle, etc) and next up is iPhone. Where are the AAA titles? The iTunes app store. Where are mobile developers actually making a living? The iTunes app store.

This article is not the blind leading the blind. It's the blind blinding the blind.

Jonathan Sterling said...

Fascinating. Another thing I was thinking is the following little bit of logic.

1. The majority of “software developers” are completely incompetent; how do I know this? Because the majority of software is complete shite..

2. A survey says a bunch of software developers think a certain thing.

3. Does it not follow that the truth is probably the opposite, given the general incompetence of the survey's domain?

K. A. Barber said...

The guy that wrote the original article is probably looking for attention and validation. I work with lots of "experts" in my day job. A few actually are and some have potential but most are expert in title only. Most spend there time posturing and looking for attention and validation.

As far as betting big is concerned....

I think, for a lot of developers in the mobile space, the fact that they are developing for mobile at all is betting big. Most were so used to developing desktop applications with larger feature sets, larger retail price and larger budgets that the thought of creating something concise and specific for a hand held device seems really risky.

Byron said...

I think Microsoft has more going for it than their sheer size and marketing budget. They actually make really decent tools and are well in tune with their developer community.

Microsoft moves like a giant put when they punch they can punch hard.

Toxteth O'Grady said...

They're developers who have specifically chosen one option, and it's an option that doesn't tie them to a platform at all. We're talking about a group of people that have already shown their willingness to hedge their bets and who aren't about to take the risk of hitching their wagon to a single platform.

You can't necessarily make that blanket assumption. I would imagine that a fair amount of developers using Appcelerator Titanium for mobile applications are using it so they can develop using a simpler Javascript-based model and not have to deal with Java or Objective-C, and they're only targeting one platform.

Dissertation Help said...

Its so nice to see this good information in your post, I was looking the same which you post on blog, thanks now I have the thing which I was looking for, regards. Dissertation Help|Custom Dissertation

SEO Services Consultants said...

Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck! Web Design Company

Tharik Sham : Mobile Tricks said...

Nice post

pcmobileshelper.blogspot.com
Pc Mobile Help and Mobile Tricks


mobiletrickspc.co.cc
Mobile-Tricks Home

Hire iphone developer said...

Hi
Great blog i like it about ipad development The genuine iPhone developer for iPhone applications development should be able to provide you the professional services can be obtained when you hire these services for your business,

Hire iphone developer said...

Excellent for smart persons. you are checking out should be able to work for you on the part time as well.

iphone developer

iMakerz said...

We develop iphone and ipad applications. Tell us your idea for application and we will develop it!

Visi:http://www.imakerz.ocm

h4ns said...

What youre saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I also love the images you put in here. They fit so well with what youre trying to say. Im sure youll reach so many people with what youve got to say.

Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town live streaming
Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town live streaming
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Stoke City Live Streaming
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Stoke City Live Streaming
Notts County vs Manchester City Live Streaming
Notts County vs Manchester City Live Streaming
Bologna vs AS Roma Live Streaming
Bologna vs AS Roma Live Streaming
Juventus vs Udinese Live Streaming
Juventus vs Udinese Live Streaming
Napoli vs Sampdoria Live Streaming
Napoli vs Sampdoria Live Streaming
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur Live Streaming
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur Live Streaming
AS Monaco vs Marseille Live Streaming
AS Monaco vs Marseille Live Streaming
Alajuelense vs Perez Zeledon Live Streaming
Alajuelense vs Perez Zeledon Live Streaming
Technology News | News Today | Live Streaming TV Channels