Dec 30, 2013
I have been doing a lot of coverage of KickStarter over the past two years, and I have seen it grow and mature with increased publicity and a more willing user base. It seems obvious to me that Android is the best vehicle for KickStarter due to its openness and robustness as a platform, but the question I want to ask is how much of an effect KickStarter has had on the Android landscape.
First off, KickStarter is great for hilighting the most creative and well polished ideas and bubbling them up to the surface. Sure, there are duds thrown in every now and again, but that is bound to happen, and stopping the failures would in turn hinder many successful campaigns. Android prides itself somewhat on being the hobbyist operating system; the SDK is free to download, and as anyone can create the next great app, or just a personal one, for free. As we have seen over this year games are certainly a big draw on KickStarter with over $83 million being pledged to game projects in 2013; most of them in some way comparable with Android, and there is no denying this helps the platform.
A hidden issue, however, is that a majority of these funded games are also compatible with iOS, and part of the reason is because previously unavailable funding suddenly exists. xCode, Apple’s developing environment, is only compatible with OSX and includes that annoying $99/year App Store fee, but once that is paid for by supporters it is understandable that many developers focus more on a platform that only needs one or two modifications to reach 95% of users. Because of this most apps come out initially for iOS and select Android devices, leaving full Android support as a stretch goal or future endeavor.
This is not an all encompassing assessment, however, because the best part of Android, still, is its flexibility. Nobody is throwing a version of iOS7 onto a cheap, low powered game system. Ouya, as we have seen, is one of the most successful KickStarter projects ever, gaining over $8.5 million on KickStarter, and while the sales have been less than impressive it springs hope for future consoles, none of which will be running iOS or Windows Phone 8 software.
As always, some quiet reservations exist about KickStarter, and it is necessary to take a step back and take an objective look at things. I have, personally, funded a handful of projects and some have been successful, delivering great products and apps that I use everyday, and some have simply faded into nothing or have become shells of their promised outcome. Like every money making opportunity there exists those who want to extort the system, and sometimes developers don’t pan out because they are simply not ready for the spotlight. This is all necessary, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, but it is something that is hard for most people to fully accept. Talking to some friends, KickStarter has, for some, gotten the reputation as a place where people go for free money, and while they know it is not true for the whole this stigma does exist, however lightly. As Android and KickStarter become more intertwined it will be imperative for both parties to keep creativity and innovation as a priority over using KickStarter as a money service.