Google Earth inexplicably launches first on iPhone, not Android

Google has released a version of its Google Earth software for the iPhone as a dedicated application. It looks like a fantastic application (I’m downloading it now) and is free, and as such will likely become another shiny application with which iPhone users will try to impress their friends.

Which is why I am baffled that this has been released for iPhone and not the Android platform first.

I mean, I get it: Google is a big company. There are lots of product teams. Those teams probably have a lot of autonomy. Google is fine making software for all platforms, not just its own, since their customers use a variety of platforms.

But we’re not talking about Gmail here. We’re talking about a stunning bit of entertainment software that would set Android phones apart from their competition. And then Google Mobile distributes it for iPhone first?

This is exactly the sort of behavior that I’ve been grousing about at least since the T-Mobile G1’s first press conference. Google needs to act like they really care about Android’s success or they’re going to hobble it right out of the gate.

Google Earth for iPhone, iPod Touch [iTunes]
Introducing Google Earth for iPhone [GoogleBlog.Blogspot.com]

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11 Responses to Google Earth inexplicably launches first on iPhone, not Android

  1. cacarr says:

    DSSSTRKL is correct.

    Consider how Google makes money…

    Google doesn’t care if you use an iPhone or an Android-powered device. If they happen to have Google Earth ready to go for iPhone, they are going to release it.

    Android exists because Apple’s mobile OS is limited to a single device, and to a small number of carriers worldwide.

  2. technogeek says:

    Welcome to the world of large corporations, where the left head knoweth not what the right head is doing…

  3. Anonymous says:

    So, here’s the most likely reason why this appeared on the iPhone first.
    The iPhone development environment is c/c++, and as such a direct port of google earth was possible, if not simple. They just have to be careful of resource use, fix any missing methods in the iPhone sdk, and hit compile.
    The android runs all user apps in the Dalvik Virtual Machine, which runs a bytecode converted from Java. This lends it portability across phone hardware and safety as each running app is in its own sandbox. Google Earth could be ported to Android/G1, which is more than beefy enough, but it will have to be a native android binary and they’ll have to worry about rebuilding it for each new android supporting phone, which will be a bit of a pain. Apple controls their hardware so they don’t have to worry about this.

  4. DragonVPM says:

    At this moment, I suspect that there are quite a few more iPhone users than Android users. From a product development standpoint, why wouldn’t they want to release it to the more popular (by virtue of being around longer if nothing else) platform?

    This helps them get more Google software on more phones. Plus, I suspect that Google is treating this as a shakedown cruise for Android so they might not want Google Earth released for Android until they’ve had a chance to get more feedback from the early adopters. Given how new Android is, it doesn’t seem strange at all that they’d hold off a bit.

    It would be pretty embarrassing if they released it and discovered some bugs (or they might already know of some) that make the system crash/become unstable etc… At which point people start talking about how Google can’t even get their act together and code two pieces of software that interact properly.

    Also, by releasing Google Earth now they stay in the new cycles a bit longer which seems to be something a lot of PR savvy companies like.

  5. dculberson says:

    Joel, you’re right that it might have made more sense from a business perspective to keep it on Andriod, but it’s definitely more customer centric to release it on iPhone if they’ve already got it done. Holding it back so their platform got it first, or was the only one to have it, would definitely approach a mild evil in my book.

    To me, it’s just one more sign that Google isn’t Apple or Microsoft. (Two very similar corporations, no matter how pretty the one’s finished product it.)

  6. cubey says:

    I just now installed Google Earth on my iPod Touch. I like how it makes use of the touch-screen with dual-touch rotate and zoom, but there’s something else unexpected that might explain why it’s on iPhone/iPod first: it uses the accelerometer to let you tilt the view by tilting the phone. You can even hold it upside down to see the stars above that location. Ok, I don’t know why you would want to… but it’s nifty!

  7. cacarr says:

    “…but there’s something else unexpected that might explain why it’s on iPhone/iPod first: it uses the accelerometer to let you tilt the view by tilting the phone…”

    That explains nothing. The G1 has an accelerometer.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Again, Android smacks of a 20% project, and is *brand spanking new* (read: no user base)

    Google Earth: iPhone has probably been in development since launch

  9. Anonymous says:

    That’s really, really good. If M$ would act like this, than we’d, probably, had a much better world now.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Currently G1 apps are stored in phone memory rather than on the SD card. It might that they need to fix this problem so there will be space to store Google Earth. I do not know the size of the app, but it might take up a fair amount of the currently limited space that other apps could use.

  11. dssstrkl says:

    Here’s your explanation: Again, Android is competition for Windows Mobile, and to a lesser extent, the Blackberry, not the iPhone. The whole point of Android is to get Google’s services on mobile devices. Considering that the iPhone comes with Google maps on the homepage, Google as the default search engine on Safari and easy access to (multiple) Gmail, its hard to see why Google wouldn’t want to strengthen the iphone as much as possible. I even have OTA calendar access via Mobile Me and Busysync.

    Google is not Microsoft and Android is not in itself a business. This should be obvious, since its free (speech and beer). The success of the iphone is good for Google. Android is for people who don’t want or don’t like the iphone, but still want a great modern mobile computing experience and live in Google’s ecosystem.

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