A year after Google's Android launch, the open source operating system has become a sensation for both developers and consumers. With at least 12 devices currently using Android consumers have a range of mobile devices on which the platform operates and numerous devices on the horizon.
But it isn't all good news. Some developers have complained that developing for Android is a "nightmare" citing the problem currently facing Android developers according to CNN. Some of those concerns are the fact there are 3 versions of the operating system on current phones (Android 1.5, 1.6 and 2.0) as well as custom firmware for the various devices and the hardware differences between phones on which the system runs.
For users it could mean a difficult experience for the applications they are trying to use, causing headaches and frustrations. This headache could lead to users leaving negative feedback because they do not understand the complex code needed to develop application. The negative feedback by users could be a potentially lethal blow for small businesses developing applications to run on multiple Android handsets.
"Instead of working on updates to our apps, we find we are trying to make each app work for multiple versions of the OS and different hardware capabilities," says Chris Fagan, co-founder at Froogloid, an Android-focused application development company. "We are not complaining about all the growth, but if you are a small or a new Android developer coming in and trying to learn I could see your head exploding. It would be overwhelming," he says.
Fagan's concern about the development headaches of Android is shared by other developers, says Sean Galligan, vice president of business development at Flurry, a mobile application analytics company.
"There's no question that we are starting to hear developers express concern," says Galligan. "Android is growing very fast and there's a lot of excitement for it but it's also a lot for work, especially for medium and small developers." Google says it has emulators available that allows developers to test their application running on simulated devices so they can see how it behaves.
But it doesn't always work, says Fagan. "In a sense, we are shooting blind with the emulators because we have no idea how it is really working on the device."
"It's getting a lot riskier on the Android. It's not 4x increase in the cost but it will be a lot more work" says Kelly Schrock, owner of Fognl, which has three applications on the Android market.
Only time will tell if the frustrations ease for application developer who choose the Android platform an whether Google will work with the development community to help ease their concerns.