Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Android and Emerging Markets

I recently read an article in The Register by a friend of mine, Matt Asay. He has a pretty good point about Android being the dominant player in the BRIC market. I can remember going to CES and being surprised ten years ago how many odd cheap devices were using Linux, but had really terrible interfaces. Thanks to Android, now those devices have a compelling interface and access to the Android application market.

Matt's point though is about revenue. If you can't charge people for apps because you don't have a credit card on file, and advertising isn't targeting them necessarily, how do application developers make money in those emerging markets?

For that matter, what about devices without a UI at all? Is there a way to monetize services without an interface? If you have a smart phone that can connect to a headless device in your home where the headless device is doing some "work" for you, like keeping track of energy usage for example, would the money be made on the secondary device and the application on the smartphone is just a way to connect to it to get at the information?

There are certainly many questions left to answer on this topic. It will be really interesting to see where the market goes, especially in the BRIC countries.


  1. Very interested in your work on headless android, we're looking at an embedded device in the home which talks to a phone. I'm just trying to get your patch to run on a pandaboard with Linaro 12.06.

    How do you install new apps onto the device without a UI? Is it via adb as that doesn't require the UI to confirm that installation is ok?

  2. Andy, Yes, I've been using adb to do app installation.

  3. Hi Casey, Thanks for the rapid reply. I've managed to get the pandaboard booted and as you reported the memory reduction is very noticeable, I'll try to get some figures tomorrow. Apologies if this is a stupid question but, how did you check that android was all still working properly as I'm assuming it will still boot to a command prompt even if android is broken? Do you have some test apps that help to demonstrate this?

  4. I don't have any test apps, per se. We have a suite of software we are developing for the smart grid market so we are testing daily against the headless android I've built using the instructions on this blog.

    There may be some standard Android test that can be run without a UI, but I'm not aware of any (and honestly haven't spent a lot of time looking.)

    Interested to hear if you find any good test software though.