Google has announced official details of the Android Developer Challenge, with $10 million in awards for developers who build mobile apps for the new open-source platform for mobile devices. In addition to announcing the cash prizes, Google said that the Android software developer kit (SDK) is now available.
The cash prizes, ranging from $25,000 to $275,000, will be awarded next year by a panel of judges. Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, said in a statement that the Android platform "offers developers a unique opportunity to create truly innovative mobile software."
He added that the competition is a challenge for developers to "stretch their imaginations" and create "something amazing."
Android Challenge I and II
The competition is actually divided into two parts. Challenge I will accept submissions from January 2 through March 3 of next year, and 50 of those submissions will be selected to receive $25,000 for more development. The 50 first-round winners will be eligible to apply by May 1 for 10 awards of $275,000 each and 10 others at $100,000 each, with the winners to be announced at the end of May. The remaining $5 million will be distributed in an as-yet-unannounced fashion once the Android-based handsets start shipping in the second half of next year.
The winning entries, according to Google, will be those applications that "leverage all that the Andoid platform has to offer in order to provide consumers with their most compelling experiences." Developers will retain all intellectual property and other rights.
Virtually all of the developers will be starting with the same Android knowledge base, because the platform was just announced a week ago by a Google-led group of more than 30 companies, including T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm, and Motorola, that have come together as the Open Handset Alliance.
The Android software stack includes an operating system, middleware, interface, and applications. Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement that Android is "more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone'" concept that had been discussed in the press.
'A New Paradigm'
Josh Martin, a Yankee Group analyst, said Android could help propel the "new paradigm" that is emerging among handsets and other portable devices. Step by step, he said, devices such as the Nokia N95, Apple's iPhone, and others are allowing a wider or even unlimited array of applications, initially through access to the Web. This compares, he said, to the Verizon model where users are steered toward Verizon-controlled applications and features.
In addition, he said, "mobile devices and content have suffered from a lack of standards," and a large Android-based, open-source community of developers could help alleviate standardization issues.
Google has become a leader in open platform standards. For instance, it recently led an alliance that announced the OpenSocial standard to support the interoperability of applications across social-networking sites. It also has been the key force driving the FCC to adopt standards allowing any wireless device or nonmalicious software to be used on spectrum that will be auctioned off in January.