I'm going to file this in the this is not how I thought this should work category. Google had only just recently announced it was working on a streaming service for apps on the Android platform. It was thought users would be able to find an app and stream it to try it out. It made sense...why install an app (wasting precious local storage space) when you can simply stream it? It would cut down on the amount of unused apps that wind up remaining on the average user's device. Considering that the average user doesn't take the time to install an app, try it out, and uninstall it when they find they don't like it, this would be an outstanding means of preventing your device from filling up with unused apps.
Isn't that always the case?
I assumed this would come in the form of user-selected streaming...not ads. This is problematic on a number of levels. First of all, connected users have become quite accustomed to ignoring ads. In fact, we go to great lengths to keep them from appearing on our screens, in our streams, and over our memes. We (as a collective consciousness) have a knee-jerk emotional disconnect with online advertisements...even though those advertisements are (quite often) the only means of income some of the sites we frequent have. But no matter...those ads get in the way of "us" enjoying our walls, feeds, and Youtube channels.
With that in mind, how does Google believe it will manage to single-handedly overcome something no company has ever managed to do? Especially if those streaming, full-blown apps get in the way of users actually doing what they want to do.
Second...and more importantly...how is it possible that streaming a full-blown app can be, in any shape, worthwhile if it doesn't take up the full screen? And if Google opts for that route, most users are going to assume it to be a normal advertisement and close it. Even worse, what happens when users start getting bombarded by irrelevant streaming app ads that take over their screens and prevent them from getting work done? That's going to be a problem.
Third...Google has said these streaming app ads would be sixty second trials of the real apps. Trials...as in the user can interact with the app. For a whopping sixty seconds. How in the world is a user going to be able to surmise if the app is right for them in a single minute? Sure if a UI is horrible, or the app simply doesn't function probably, a user will know right away. But what happens when a user is starting to really test the functionality of the app...and the app goes away. Or, what if a user knows immediately the app is worthless...will they then have to wait out the entire sixty seconds?
That's going to cause a heavy duty case of First World Problems.
I have a better idea Google. Instead of creating pushed app ads, why don't you allow users the choice from within the Google Play Store. Underneath that Install button, place a Stream button. This would allow the user to choose whether or not the streaming app makes it to their device and it would solve the problems Google believes the streaming app ads would solve. On top of which, for all those users who have gone to great lengths to block ads, the streaming app might function as expected.
I'm going to attempt to boil the whole problem of internet advertising down into a single sentence.
Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
Consider those slide show-based sites you visit...you know the ones, where the vast majority of the page is advertisements and the actual content gets buried in a wash of unstable video or image ads to the point where the site become unusable (or even crashes your browser). Now, apply that to a mobile device. You stream a sixty second, interactive app ad and a user gets frustrated because they cannot dismiss the ad. The user finally gets beyond the ad and a while later runs into another. This continues to happen until the device becomes sluggish and the user has no choice but to restart the smartphone.
Yes, it may sound like something from the early 2000s (back when smartphone platforms were in their infancy and constantly battled stability issues), but that could very well become the reality. In the end, someone will come up with a work-around to block app ads and the system will have been defeated.
Google, it's a good idea, but a bit misguided. Having the ability to stream apps would be a great addition to the Android platform...especially on lower-end devices that lack significant internal storage. But for this to really succeed, it cannot be in the form of pushed ads. You'll just curate apps based on what the user previously installed and make suggestions based on that data. If the recommendations section in the Google Play Store is any indication of how often users would strike gold (based on your algorithms), that system would fail based solely on that factor alone.
Google can pull this off, but they must drop the advertisement model and make this purely user-decided. Isolate the streaming system within the Google Play Store where it could serve two functions: A streaming app service and a try it before you buy it system.
Do you think a streaming app service can work? If so, how best should it function?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.