Google Simplifies Smartphone App Development

Google continues to make life easier for app developers on its Android Platform. Meanwhile, Nintendo speaks out about rumors of game development for smartphones.

If you had hopes of playing Pokémon on your smartphone running on Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android platform in the near future, brace yourself for disappointment.  Nintendo quickly shot down the recent rumors of a Pokémon game arriving this summer for iOS or Android smartphones, saying it plans to keep with its tradition of developing games solely for its own hardware.

Nintendo remains steadfast in its loyalty when it comes to games and its proprietary machinery, but investors have made it clear that the gaming giant should branch out towards the growing mobile market.  The rumors of an iOS and Android-based Pokémon caused Nintendo shares to increase 4.9 percent.  Cosmo Securities Co. analyst Mitsuo Shimizu commented on the stock movement in response to the Pokémon rumors: "The share movement showed how much investors are hoping for Nintendo to change its strategy.  Nintendo should consider developing games for smartphones or players that can also act as mobile phones, as it suits the lifestyles of many people."  While Nintendo certainly has a say as far as how it will develop its games, it own a mere 32 percent of the Pokémon franchise, with Game Freak owning the rest.  In other words, the Pokémon brand does have some freedom in terms of where it could appear.

Nintendo attempted to make its name hot once again by introducing the Wii U gaming console during June’s E3 conference, but its strategy backfired.  Investors were not impressed with the news of yet another piece of home gaming hardware from Nintendo.  The news caused market shares to immediately drop to their lowest level in five years.  "Although some experts seem to like the new device, I expected Nintendo to move more into the social networking business.  It’s a warning from investors that the company should reconsider its business strategy and move more aggressively into social gaming operations,” Shimizu said.   

If Nintendo continues to ignore development for the smartphones, it will likely continue its plunge as far as portable game software market share in the United States is concerned.  The company enjoyed a 70 percent market share of the portable game market in 2009, compared to 19 percent for the Apple iOS.  In 2010, Nintendo’s market share dropped to 57 percent, while the Android and iOS controlled 34 percent of the market.  Its numbers are expected to drop even more in 2011 as the Android and iOS gain in popularity.  Those numbers alone prompted many to believe and hope that the Pokémon smartphone app would soon be on the way.

Even with the statistical evidence, Nintendo is still confident about its place in the portable gaming hierarchy.  Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata stated, “So far, consumers have not stopped playing with Nintendo DS because they are using these [mobile] services or playing social games.”

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Google Continues to Simplify App Development for its Android Platform

Google has shown plenty of dedication over time to make app development easier for its Android mobile platform.  The company’s latest move towards efficiency was announced earlier this week, when it revealed that Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, would be updated to include a resizing button. 

The addition of a resizing button benefits users and developers alike.  It gives users the ability to zoom in on an application to have it fill their screens entirely.  Developers, on the other hand, can institute the feature in their apps without having to worry about sacrificing form or function, as the zooming will still retain the app’s standard resolution.  Developers building apps for both smartphones and tablets previously had to stretch them, causing distortion, or they would have to create two separate versions of the app.  The time consuming nature of this practice was seen as a major obstacle by many.  Scott Main of the Android Developers blog wrote: "Imagine viewing your app at the size of a phone screen then zooming in 200.  The effect is that everything is bigger, but also more pixilated, because the system does not resize your layout or use your alternative resources for the current device."

Although Apple is the king of the app world, Google has been doing everything it can to improve the presence of its Android Market.  The resizing button is just another way in which Google has made its Android platform more appealing for developers, and it has received positive feedback so far. 

Another way in which Google is attempting to appease developers is by tackling fragmentation issues.  The Android platform has been cited as being fragmented, as individual manufacturers sometimes change the operating system to fit the needs of their devices.  Android patches are also distributed to various phones at different times, disturbing the functionality of many apps.  Google announced that it would unify all of the Android OS’ older versions in its upcoming release, Ice Cream Sandwich, to help eliminate fragmentation.  The Ice Cream Sandwich OS is expected to become available by late summer or early fall of this year. 

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