About Google, Udacity and Bertelsmann handing out 10,000 scholarships in the EU

Seems like developers are either loosing interest in the Android platform, or someone thinks they are too expensive and need a bit more competition. I’m not going to speculate further on why Google sees a need to provide 10k scholarships, but for those interested in applying, I’d like to loose a few words on what you are going to sign up for.

  • Developing for the Android platform is torture! Especially if you already have Java experience. The Android API violates OO principles wherever possible, is very counterintuitive and testing code is very time consuming, since it has to be mostly done on a real device.
  • Google does a major release of the OS about once a year. Your skillset doesn’t age well (even worse than with Microsoft).  In the last five years alone, we had three major changes in how to build user interfaces (Gingerbread, Holo, Material Design) and a forced transition from Eclipse to Android Studio as the developer tool.
  • Device compatibility is a nightmare. You can count on device manufacturers adding unforeseen quirks and API calls getting either redefined or deprecated with new versions of the OS.
  • If you are writing apps for the consumer market, then Play is your only feasible distribution channel, which puts you entirely at Google mercy. Google updates the developer TOS about once every half a year or so (take it or leave it) and will happily close accounts or take down apps that do not comply.
  • Google is an advertisement company. On Play, they have established a “free with advertisement” culture (and coincidentally, Google also provides an SDK for showing ads in apps). The system is utterly rigged against developers, who’d rather want to sell their product. Unless you can make your apps go viral, you’ll have a hard time creating an income.
  • Don’t kid yourself into thinking that Google’s “plastic diploma” can compete with a real degree. As far as job interviews go, you’ll just be telling your future employer that you took the quick route to specialize in a narrow field that doesn’t pay (see above) and that he can give you grunt work (see above) for low pay.

Overall, this scholarship is not a job opportunity. If anything, it is an attempt to recruit and exploit underpaid developers to pump out new apps in order to keep the Android ecosystem from going stale. For an ad company (such as Google) it is vital to be able to constantly offer fresh content. Every developer who is brought into the fold sits in this hamster wheel where every attempt to promote his own products inevitably promotes the Android ecosystem as well. Google is investing in creating multipliers here.

Posted in Rants