If there's any weakness in the Android ecosystem that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) created, it's the app market.
A vibrant flow of fresh applications is critical to an enjoyable user experience. That can't happen unless developers have good incentives for producing the goods. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) builds its iPhone empire on the foundation of a supreme app market. Its App Store is a snappy experience for the user, where finding what you're looking for is about as difficult as drawing breath.
You'd think that Google would excel at building this critical part of the Android experience. The whole company is about organizing the world's information in a user-friendly way. Getting a grip on about 100,000 games and programs shouldn't be a problem for Google, now that it's presented the entire Internet for more than a decade.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. The Android Market app on your Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) Droid or my T-Mobile myTouch 3G is a slapdash presentation of apps in a haphazard organization of categories. It reminds me of Yahoo! in 1995 more than anything else. You can't screen, filter, or rank your application lists; instead, you have to live with whatever ranking method the catalog-keeper chooses to use.
Even the search function is bad. I know, right? Not exactly what you'd expect out of Google. The top result is not the most popular or most downloaded match for your keywords, nor the highest user grade or the most reviewed. In fact, I can't even tell what the organizing principle is, and I have a Master's degree in information science. How do you expect the average user to make heads or tails out of the system?
A weak app market left Palm undone. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) is taking the BlackBerry market down another dark, lightly trafficked path with similar problems, right alongside Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) . None of this surprises me. Information management is not exactly what these guys do for a living.
But Google really should do better. Speaking as a hopeful Android developer myself (anybody need to keep score in a tennis game?), I'm tempted to relearn Objective-C and jump into the iPhone market instead. Google doesn't seem to care about developers or users, and it's failing to connect the two ends of the market the way it should.
This early in its history, Android doesn't need developers jumping ship. Stop the madness now, Google.