Apparently it's been a good year for Sony: their Xperia line of Android phones has certainly been a contributing factor to a 39-million-Euro profit-before-taxes for 2010. As part of their recently-released 2010 financial report, they prominently announce the sale of over nine million Xperia devices last year. Thus far, not a single one of those 9 million phones (rooted-and-rom'd devices excepted, of course) runs any version of Android newer than 2.1. And if you read my previous post, you know what that means: no C2DM push notifications.
Those Xperia devices represent 9 million reasons for developers to carefully consider how they implement push in their applications. That isn't to say "use Deacon, we're better!" (because admittedly, by several metrics, we're not!) but rather to suggest that a silver-bullet strategy for push notifications leaves a huge potential market unserved. While certain apps could provide "push-disabled" versions for pre-2.2 devices, developers then risk offering disparate user experiences that result in polarized opinions of their product. Rather than falling back to polling or disabling push altogether, if a developer plans to maintain a source tree for pre-2.2 devices anyway, why not use Deacon as a fall-back push provider? Given that the same application server that feeds Google's C2DM backend could be easily adapted to act as a Meteor event controller in the case that a client connects from a pre-2.2 handset.
[Xperia image: Wikimedia Commons / Espen Irwing Swang]
This past May, when Google unveiled version 2.2 of Android - codenamed Froyo - the Deacon team wrung out some commentary on the addition of built-in push capability. The gist? We think it's great that there are a few different ways to do push on Android, and we think Deacon will continue to be a good choice for many developers.
One point we made in our Froyo discussion was that many Android devices won't ever be able to use Google's C2DM push solution. A quick look at the latest adoption numbers from Google is evidence of that - nearly half of the millions of Android phones in use worldwide are running pre-2.2 operating systems. Deacon is a great way to push-enable apps on older devices - but what about devices that ought to have 2.2?
I'm referring, of course, to Samsung and T-Mobile's shenanigans of late. Yesterday, Androidspy broke a rumor from "a reliable source" that accused the two companies of withholding an otherwise-ready Froyo update for the wildly-popular Vibrant handset, in hopes of bolstering sales of the forthcoming Vibrant 4G+ model. Today, AndroidGuys followed up with some commentary which opines that such tactics - if true - are "downright wrong." Speaking only for myself, I couldn't agree more. Because not only does holding back the Vibrant's Froyo update negatively impact users, it also artificially constrains the user base of developers who push-enable their apps with C2DM.
There are well over 9 million Galaxy-S-based phones in users' hands worldwide. A sizable portion of these are doubtless the Vibrant flavor - and run Android's push-incapable "Eclair" variant. While Samsung has (indirectly, and in my opinion unconvincingly) denied the rumors, they've certainly given us another facet of the mobile application ecosystem to consider: should app developers hedge their technology choices?
In this case, integrating Deacon as a push platform not only enables compatibility with older devices that can't run Android 2.2, but also insulates app developers against manufacturers or carriers who won't keep their otherwise-capable handsets up to date. The distinction is between technical and political limitations - and Deacon can help with both.
I'll be the first to forgive Samsung and T-Mobile if they come clean and make the Vibrant's Froyo situation right - but we should still learn from the free lesson that this rumor offers up. Likewise, I'm a big fan of C2DM. I enjoy C2DM apps on my own handset, and every push option on Android has its optimal use cases - that's the beauty of a platform that offers choice. To that end, I'm also readying a post comparing Deacon and C2DM, and providing a rundown of the situations where each excels. Stay tuned...