Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Update On Curated Versus “Open” App Market: Fight Between Two Camps Continue

Just yesterday, another malware struck the Android Market Place. And personal data continues to be an issue with users and developers in a kind of warp sea-saw battle that has attracted Congressional interests (both good and bad and for political self-serving reasons). That has lead me to consider the state of app stores and if walled garden still deserves a lot of criticism or if more unsupervised ones are still the way to go.

To date, there isn’t a lot of attention about iPhone and iPad users suffering from wide-spread malware while Android users, to some extent, has had to be more careful about what apps they install. However, iOS users does have only one legal app store while Android users continue to enjoy options to get their app needs from multiple sources.

Having lived in both worlds, I have to say that I like being able to go about business free of whether my iPad or iPhone is being used to siphon off my private information. To some extent, malware and private info theft could be happen even with Apple’s curated setup but it isn’t as bad as as scary as what we are hearing about Android.

And since the dawn of curated versus freer choice argument, multiple app stores have sprung up and changes to even Google’s official app store has also taken place. So, where do things now stand?

First, let’s just state for a fact that Apple has hardly budged and any changes that Cupertino has made to the app store has been met with mixed reactions. So let’s just say that the iTunes app store has its virtues but it is definitely just as closed as before.

For Android users, Amazon now provides an alternative app store. However, likely Android default marketplace, it definitely has a aroma of iOS app store to it. For some, you might call it “stench”. And yet, it doesn’t feel as closed as Apple’s store and definitely inspires a bit more confidence in me than Google’s wide-open implementation. Because Amazon isn’t entirely closed, my distrustful nature has me thinking twice and doing a deep level investigation of any app I get from it. But I am definitely happier with Amazon than Google.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone 7 also has its own app store and I find software giant operate its app store to be closer to how Apple and Amazon operate their stores than Google operates Android Marketplace.

Having said all that, malware and privacy issues are something that all mobile warriors, regardless of platform, should be concerned about. As much as we’ve all been changed by mobile computing and the social aspects of it, we are closer to the start rather than the end of a social change in how we interact with technology. Over time, some issues like privacy may get resolved only to have others pop up that is more pertinent to society at that time in the future.

Still, while it might irks some users who want unadulterated access to apps and services, the rest of us mortal users could use a little help to fend off the darker elements of mobile computing.

Note: There is indication that Google is taking more proactive steps to curtailing certain apps. Some emulators have been pulled from the Android Marketplace and Google has taken tighter control of Android as well.

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