Phone software ecosystems suck

This post (via reddit) pretty much sums up what I thought about writing software for phones.  Link.

To summarize:

  • Phone platforms are about as homogenous as a fruitcake.  If you thought that doing a Windows and a Mac version was bad, multiply by like twenty or thirty to get all the popular phones.  And no, Java isn’t going to save your butt.
  • Nobody is your friend.  Forget about making financial deals with the telcos, they don’t care.
  • Customers are stupid and lazy [with regard to phones, anyway], and won’t install your software even if they know how.  For the few that do, when they upgrade their phones next year, your software won’t be on them (have you done the port yet?).
  • Development environments will have you remembering with fondness the projects in the 80s when you used to blow sets of 256KBit EPROMs, and always had a few baking in the UV eraser; thirty minutes to an hour doesn’t sound too bad.
  • Batteries still suck.  (Phone engineers know how many electrons it takes to do an ADD.  “With or without carry?”  You think I’m kidding?)  Nobody is going to play your Quake port for more than ten minutes, because they can’t.

If there’s an answer here, it end-runs the telcos and their crappy environments.


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3 Responses to Phone software ecosystems suck

  1. Think about WiMax (802.16) (or something like it) in nearly every corner of the civilized world. Now think about mobile PCs (or macs, or linuxen, or whatever) with all their capabilities, add to that he ability to mimic a phone (VOIP) over an omnipresent wireless high-speed network.

    What I’m looking forward to is the day when a small handheld device has all the power that my notebook computer has – and can run all the same software and OSs (we’re nearly there) AND can tap into DSL-speed wireless just about everywhere – when that happens, the telcos will have lost it all.

    Phones? Who uses those any more?

  2. myrrhlin says:

    Multiply the user base by a factor of ten, and reduce the available hardware some, and it makes more sense. China. I know a guy programming games for cell phones in Shenzhen. They’re making money.

  3. Keith says:

    It’s a little better for BlackBerry in a few ways: OTA downloads are easy (if you have a data plan), and the phone uses a regular mini-USB cable so as long as you have the 200MB BlackBerry desktop manager you can install things from there as well.

    But otherwise they suck. Install something compiled for 4.3 on a 4.2 device? Nukes your phone requiring an OS reinstall.

    And the API reference? It’ll say stuff like, “Constructor: fubar(long style) Creates a new fubar with style ‘style’.” That’s it, seriously. And then no information on what style is, or what values it can be, or what they do. Half the time when it does tell you, it’s wrong anyway, and the values it ACTUALLY uses are static fields in some other class in another hierarchy entirely.

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