(This is a guest post by Michael Heller from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)
It has come to my attention that I am too much of an idealist, too much of a dreamer, and the vision that I hold for the future of Android is flat out impossible given the corporate-run world in which we live. I have dreamed of an Android system where developers, manufacturers and carriers all cooperate to create the perfect open system in which everyone is uplifted. This is not just a crazy ideal, but also quite Anti-Capitalist, and of course, that kind of idea cannot survive in this America. As much as I may want to see everyone cooperating for the greater good, I am constantly reminded that carriers are evil, and manufacturers are self-serving.
Unfortunately, the real future of Android is not unification, but more fragmentation. Google may have been able to alleviate some issues of OS fragmentation by decoupling Google apps from the OS, but the growing problem of fragmentation of the Android Marketplace remains. The announcement of proprietary app stores from Verizon V-Cast, Cisco, Vodafone, Acer and NotionInk are the true danger to the Android ecosystem.
Google has built a fantastic ecosystem within YouTube by forcing copyright holders to self-monitor for infringement, but that theory simply doesn’t fly for the Android Market. With 24 hours of video added to YouTube each minute, policing YouTube is physically impossible for one company, even one as big as Google. At approximately 80,000 apps, policing the Android Market is possible, even if that means a minor review process to weed out copyright infringement and spam apps. Besides, why do you think content creators have been so hesitant to bring paid content to YouTube? Lawlessness has created a toxic arena that kills any opportunities of success, and the same issues plague the Android Market. Why would a big name developer enter the Android Market if their content could be outright stolen, copied and re-released? Why would developers strive for quality if their apps get buried under the piles of spam and crapware that floods the Market every day? Why would a developer come in when the anti-piracy controls are still woefully inadequate?
Open does not mean lawless, and open does not mean no curation. Users want to be able to find good apps, but on the flip side developers want their apps to be found. We have alternatives like AppBrain to help with this problem. AppBrain has a great community of users who add comments to those pulled in from the Android Market. AppBrain also filters out spam apps, and has a number of tools to allow users to discover new apps, as well as ways to share your list of apps with friends. Google needs to borrow ideas from these alternatives and take some control of the Android Market for there to be any chance for the system to evolve. If the Android Market cannot compete with more controlled proprietary markets like the Verizon V Cast Store, then what chance does the system have as a whole? What good are open standards if they can simply be corrupted by big corporations who then fragment the system for their own gains?
I don’t want to see an iPhone-like walled-garden come to Android, but I also don’t see the current “wild west” Market as the right solution. The best solution lies somewhere in the middle, and it seems that may be what these independent app stores are trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, those stores will all be too far towards the walled-garden side of the spectrum which further divides the Android house, and that cannot and will not stand.
References:  YouTube  The Register