Android App Inventor, democratising app development or diluting its marketplace

Android App Inventor, launched today, promises to democratise app development, by allowing anyone to build an app. We at Electricpig look forward to trying our hand at this, but in the long term will it cause problems for Android’s app proposition?

Currently in Beta after testing phases began a year ago, the Android App Inventor allows non developers to write and design apps using a series of building blocks in a reasonably simple user interface, which has blocks to store info, perform actions under certain conditions, work with GPS and Twitter, among others.

In theory, now anyone can write an app and sell it. But what will the effect be on the marketplace? For Android, the App Inventor might push its app marketplace into a heavily diluted, low quality state. On the other hand, it might broaden its offerings, and create some really innovative app ideas.

The reason Apple’s App Store has grown so strong is because of it’s appeal to users. Apps are tightly monitored, and so quality stays reasonably high. Android on the other hand, has fewer controls, and so quality sometimes isn’t as high, but openness and lack of policing is attractive to developers.

A blog essentially gives a non-developer the tools to build a website. Now Google are giving non developers the tools to build apps too. But there are too many blogs, and only the tiniest fraction are worth reading, so if Android’s app proposition ends up like this as a result of the App Inventor, could it put Android at a disadvantage in the war against Apple?

It’s a war of principles – between Apple’s dictatorial regime and Android’s liberal, free thinking approach. Depending on the apps which appear and the reaction of developers, this could prove a key turning point in the fight. What Google needs to turn App Inventor into a boon is a good set of filtering and search tools at the point of sale. And if there’s one thing Google is good at…

What do you think? Does App Inventor give Android an advantage or disadvantage?

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