Android Developers Win Smackdown Vs. iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile, Microsoft Asserts It Has Promising Smartphone Future, & More Mobile Madness Highlights

So the iPhone may be the prettiest, the Blackberry may boast the biggest smartphone market share, and the Windows Mobile platform is, um, around, but it’s Android that’s best for developing apps. Or at least it was the Android developers who best defended their platform at the smartphone smackdown during our Mobile Madness event on Tuesday.

The event was a big success, featuring a look at the future of the mobile industry both locally and globally, a panel of executives dishing on what we can look forward to in the next year, and keynote speakers touching on voice recognition, data storage, and Windows’ share in the smartphone world. More than 200 people crammed into Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center for the forum. (Check out our slide show here.)

I think the purpose of the smackdown was best summed up in the words of referee John Landry, founder and managing director of Lead Dog Ventures: “The objective here is really to dump on the other platforms.”

Henry Cipolla (left) and Carter Jernigan (right)To achieve that, we invited developers and others passionate about app creation to step up and represent the iPhone, Google’s Android, BlackBerry, and Windows. The audience decided by a raising of hands that the Android guys did the best job representing their platform. The congratulations goes to Henry Cipolla, chief technology officer of mobile app analysis startup Localytics, and Carter Jernigan, founder of two forty four a.m., makers of the app Locale, which enables phones to automatically change their settings based on locations.

The duo lauded Android’s ability to work with multiple carriers, the openness of the platform’s market, and its ability to run background apps, allowing an app to remain active even when it’s not the primary app being run. Jernigan spoke about how his product could only work with the Android platform because of that unique capability. “If you’re trying to create a business and have a lot of different avenues for success, the Android makes the most sense,” Cipolla said.

This gave the iPhone guys an opportunity to jump in. “Don’t you want to be where the people are?” said Raizlabs‘ Craig Spitzkoff, pointing out the fact that Apple has the highest share of customers downloading and paying for mobile apps.

Cimarron Buser, VP of products and marketing for Apperian, pointed out that when it comes to apps, in the beginning there was the iPhone. “You can already see that every other vendor is looking at the iPhone in terms of technology and business model,” he said.

Other smackdown contenders, and even audience members, pointed out the sense of entitlement this has given the iPhone. They criticized Apple’s tendency to suddenly shelve a mobile app (which it did last month with apps it deemed too sexy) and in turn tank a developer’s business.

Zachariah Hofer-Shall, representing development on the Windows Mobile side, lashed out at what he called the “communist regulations of the App Store.” He and others also brought up … Next Page »

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14 responses to “Android Developers Win Smackdown Vs. iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile, Microsoft Asserts It Has Promising Smartphone Future, & More Mobile Madness Highlights”

  1. Jesse Nahan says:

    Congrats to the Android duo, but I was suprised that the Palm Pre wasn’t included. As a developer for the Pre (I built the Forbes Magazine app), I like the speed and the versatility in building WebOS apps. Like the Android, the Pre runs apps in the background and has powerful location tools for developers.

    There’s a terrifc WebOS development community and Palm, unlike Apple, is supportive of the unofficial “homebrew” apps.

    Palm’s currently blanketing major cities with ads and product placement on “24” — Jack Bauer uses a Pre! Though I wish they would’ve kicked their advertising into high gear months ago.

  2. Zach says:

    Excellent write up!

    It was indeed a lively event with good arguments for all platforms. I think it’s fair to say that there were two big takeaways: 1) no platform is perfect – all have flaws. 2) mobile is hot and all platforms are worth developing for today.

    Palm definitely came up in the discussion. The general consensus seemed that the device is way underrated (one of the iPhone team members actually carries a Pre), but the small user-base makes the platform slightly less appealing to develop for in the short term. Palm has a great strategy for development, it just needs more developers like you to realize that.

    You’re absolutely right: the marketing is a great idea – something they should have done ages ago.

  3. vara411 says:

    Umm… webOS? Palm Pre? Hello? I realize it’s a very small and young ecosystem, but there’s lots of developers who would fiercely defend webOS as the best development platform, had they been invited.

    This article only tells part of the story.

  4. Wade RoushWade Roush says:

    @Jesse, @vara411: Thanks for your comments, which are fair. I would have loved to include both webOS/Palm and Symbian in the Mobile Smackdown, but there were a couple of constraints. First, we only had an hour for this part of the event, and we knew that if we put too many people on stage, it would limit each participants’ contribution. So we needed to draw the line somewhere. Second, while we had plenty of iPhone and Android advocates to choose from, we had a very hard time finding people to represent Windows Phone and BlackBerry. My sense was that it would have been even harder to find people to defend webOS and Symbian. But I could have been wrong about that, and if we do this type of event again in the future, I’d like to try to be more inclusive. Anyway, thanks.

  5. info says:
    iPhone versus Android. Pick your favorite and see if you’re on the winning team!
  6. Jay H says:

    Have to agree with Zach, it seems as though there was no clear winner it the App wars. As identified, all platforms have flaws and issues, and all App markets are worth developing.

    Lively debate, good read, no A vs B that can sometimes take over thexe kind of events.

  7. I am a little hesitant to invest a lot of effort in iPhone development as it seems the market is getting saturated with Apps and there are other problems with distribution too. I know some iPhone developers who are really disappointed with their download results after spending months developing apps for iPhone. The way I see it, the only real opportunity is in developing niche apps for specific corporate markets and the platform I would pick for that is Android because of the sheer volume of Android sales. See

    After 8 months of developing Blackberry apps, I am convinced that Android is the way to go.