ADC2: Challenging Predictions

android_dev_challenge_2This past Monday, the week-long entry period for the Android Developer Challenge 2 (ADC2) opened up. This $2 million contest will eventually crown thirty prize-winners, with the top winner walking away with $250,000. With judging largely in the hands of ordinary users (only part of second round will involve expert judges), this version of the Challenge should have some remarkable differences compared to the original challenge of a year-plus ago.

That being said, here are eight predictions for how ADC2 will turn out:

  1. Fewer applications will be submitted. While there are more qualified Android developers today than before, ADC2 also got a lot less hype than the original ADC, and the prize package is smaller if I remember the amounts correctly. The original ADC had over 1,700 entries; I will guess that ADC2 will get between 1,000 and 1,500.
  2. ADC2 will have same-but-different judging controversies. With ADC1, it would appear that the judging panel was not in position to deal with the volume of entrants, causing first-round applications to be judged more superficially. ADC2’s reliance on end users for judging will also likely result in superficial results, as not everybody who signs up to judge will take the same amount of time testing the applications and placing their votes.
  3. ADC2 will have overall higher quality applications. I was not a judge on the original ADC, but if the quality of applications submitted as entries mirrored the quality of the initial applications put on the Android Market, quality would have been very uneven. Some applications, such as the overall winners, were outstanding, and many applications were…limited in capability. Seeing what it took to win the first ADC, I expect more entrants to ADC2 will have built compelling applications. Besides, I suspect there have been some teams at work on building ADC2 applications for many months.
  4. ADC2 will have more established, recognized entrants. While the original ADC had some “brand names”, ADC2 is even more likely to get entries from firms with existing noteworthy Web sites, iPhone apps, or the like. Firms realize that the exposure from ADC2 – even just getting in the top 200 from the first round – can be very useful, perhaps even more than the cash prizes themselves.
  5. Some people will toss out unfounded accusations about how the first ADC was conducted. There is little question that the first ADC had many issues, but if you are going to trot out year-old dirty laundry, at least have the common decency to provide evidence for claims of bias or whatnot.
  6. ADC2 will not be as harmful to Android. The first ADC, rightly or wrongly, is inextricably tied to the “Summer of Silence”, when all community assistance from Google evaporated between the close of the ADC first-round judging and the publication of the final results. This was a huge setback for community momentum. It is less likely ADC2 will coincide with a similar period of “silent treatment”, and the Android community is in much better shape to both cope with such behavior and take action to attempt to reverse it.
  7. I predict that I will write a piece sometime in the next couple of months about better ways to spend $2 million to make Android a success among developers.
  8. In the end, ADC2 will be much more “ho-hum” than the original ADC. There will be brief excitement when the public judging applications are made available, and there will be lots of discussion about the winners. And, no doubt, some of the winning applications will go on to be major contributors to the Android ecosystem. But there just does not seem to be as much emotion around ADC2 right now, and it feels unlikely that it will change during the judging process.

Certainly, I hope that I am wrong on the more negative of these predictions.

  • james

    I think a lot of devs are suffering from an ADC1 hang over. After putting so much effort into their entries and not getting anything out of it, many developers gave up on android or have decided not to bother with ADC2. Anyone who is really serious about android either has a job at an affiliated company or has already released their application on the market.

    I am not sure how the community judging process will work out either. Will they get enough people to download and judge enough applications to get a good enough ranking? I for one don't really have any desire to go through and rank a bunch of applications randomly.

    I can only hope that the winners do actually contribute to the android ecosystem as most of the winners of ADC1 took the money and ran.

  • Charles

    ADC2's submission numbers will definitely be down. Their policy disqualifies any applications placed in the Android Market between the end of ADC1 and August 1, 2009, meaning anyone who's been hard at work on an ADC2 killer app but who moved it out to the Market won't have a crack at the big prizes on offer from Google. The submission site opened later than expected, and the submission window is only about a week.

    For developers like myself, the submission policy was a big blow, as I thought the whole point of the contest was to draw attention to more ideas, not just those created in a very short time frame. I wrote an app that has matured nicely, but won't get to be judged by anyone. It was not in ADC1 and since it's already been in the Android Market, it won't ever be eligible.

  • Charles

    Anyone planning on submitting for ADC3 – if it's held – will have to plan accordingly. If they develop something but hold it back from the Android Market until after they've submitted for the next ADC they'll be eligible, but they'll lose the potential for downloads or business in the meantime. If they go ahead and release a title in the Market, they'll be able to start picking up users but (at least with the current policy) they'll permanently forgo any chance that app might have at being a winner in an ADC competition. That's a pretty rough choice.

    I've posted these sentiments on Google's support forum for Android; I just hope someone there gets the message.

  • I would think the one of the primary strategies behind the challenge is to lure new developers to the platform. Of course Google wants to spur innovation and have existing Android devs produce killer apps. But I would think a major goal would be to get devs to defect from the iPhone. But strangely, I don't think the challenge was hyped all that much. Following on James' comment, I'm not sure how many general Android users have even heard about it. If they get a very small sample of user judges, it could heavily skew results. Their backup plan may be to jettison user judging if the sample size is too small, and just rely on expert judging.

    We'll see.

  • I don't think the number of reviews will be an issue at all. Google will push the ADC2 pretty hard in the Market and the news will be pretty loud in the tech press.
    I also think that the apps that come out of this event will be quite a bit better than the first.
    Having entered an app in both, I'd say that the API is way more mature than the first go around (still has lots of room for improvement).
    As a recent Android phone owner I am quite excited to judge apps for the ADC2 and I'm looking forward to some great apps coming out of this event.

  • I think Jessie James holding an Android is worth more than the entire ADC2.