Android Apps—a Growing Market

Want to know if your Android application customer demographic has changed since Verizon’s launch of the DROID? Just look at your app’s comments on the Marketplace. Over the past few weeks, the language has dramatically changed from a constructive comment like “great app but needs some work” to a more aggressive one like ‘”this app sucks—my phone keeps on crashing” without any diagnostic aid. While this hurts the developer’s sales, it shows that the user market has changed and expanded.

When the first Android phone emerged—the T-Mobile G1—the early adopters jumped on it. These consumers, the first users exposed to the problems common to early-stage product deployment, were tech-savvy. They were compassionate with developers’ struggles in a young market and patient with the crashes, bugs, and error messages. These people mostly had an understanding of the programming behind the apps. They acknowledged that as the new Android phones hit the market, the apps would have to adapt with them.

Unlike other popular smart phones, the Android operating system has been deployed in at least 10 different devices and carried by at least 5 service providers internationally. Each device has different parameters for certain features and, on top of that, the Android OS keeps being updated creating a constant stream of programming demands. Unfortunately, the consumer doesn’t always understand this. They’ve been trained to assume that each app that arrives in the Marketplace has been tested on every device and the latest OS before being made available on the market. That’s not how Android works.

On a positive note, the new wave of consumers suggests that the product is being adopted by the early majority. While early adopters tend to perceive risks in a positive way, early majority undoubtedly perceive risks as negative, hence comments like “don’t even bother downloading the app—it crashes my phone” which, in fact, is a device error.

What we can take away from this is that the Android developers are going through a maturity stage where they have to learn how to manage their consumers. They will need to help educate their users through blogs, increase their customer service by reaching out to the unsatisfied customers, and connect with the trendsetters who often aid in the awareness of the products.

Typekit—Expand Your Website’s Font Library

It has been a long wait, but I finally received my invitation to try out Typekit—a solution to the agony of being restricted by web-safe fonts. Created by Small Batch Inc., Typekit will allow web developers to write their CSS, link it to a font file, and have that font appear on their website. No more using Flash or images to convey a typographic style while sacrificing your SEO.

So, why has it taken this long to get fonts other than Arial, Times, Verdana, and Geneva on our websites? Part is due to browser technology (the ability to link to a font) and the other is due to protecting the copyright of the typeface. Like software, a typeface is purchased with a license, which means it can only be used on a certain number of computers. In the near future, all major browsers will support the ability to link to a font, so the only remaining hurdle was the licensing issue. Here’s Typekit’s explanation of what they did to make it happen:

“We’ve been working with foundries to develop a consistent web-only font linking license. We’ve built a technology platform that lets us host both free and commercial fonts in a way that is incredibly fast, smoothes out differences in how browsers handle type, and offers the level of protection that type designers need without resorting to annoying and ineffective DRM.” (Source

Typekit has prepared 4 packages for their service (currently a yearly pricing discount).

1. Trial
– free
– 5GB
– Trial library (70 fonts to choose from)
– 1 website, 2 fonts
– Typekit badge required (links to a colophon page providing detailed information about the displayed fonts and the foundries and designers who created them)

2. Personal
– $24.99/year
– 10GB
– Personal library (240 fonts to choose from)
– 1 website, 5 fonts

3. Portfolio
– $49.99/year
– 20GB
– Full library (300 fonts to choose from)
– 5 websites, unlimited fonts

4. Performance
– $249.99/year
– 100GB
– Full library
– 40 websites, unlimited fonts

All are W3C standards compliant, allow advanced style control, and are fully refundable for 30 days. The servers hosting the fonts are fast and reliable, and if your site exceeds the bandwidth defined in the package (ie. if your site suddenly gets high-volume traffic) the fonts will continue to appear. If traffic remains high, you may receive a phone call from Typekit to discuss ways to adjust your service package.

The only case where the fonts may not appear and default to standard fonts (CSS Stacks) is when the browser is not compliant. All browsers supporting the CSS @font-face rule will work with Typekit. They include Firefox 3.5 and higher, Safari 3.1 and higher, and Internet Explorer 6 and higher. For those developing a site, Safari 3.1 or higher and Firefox 3.5 or higher will be required to run the Typekit application (they are currently working on including IE).

After clicking on the Trial package option, you’re prompted to provide a domain name with up to 10 URLs, including ‘localhost’ for development. Once that is done, simply copy and paste the javascript code into the head tag of the pages you want to activate then have fun browsing through the type library and choosing your site’s new fonts! Here’s what I chose—don’t forget to click on the Typekit badge!  CLICK HERE to view sample.

Read more about Typekit: