SDK Showdown: Apple IPhone vs. Google Android

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In this corner: the current champion of the mobile phone market, the iPhone. In the other corner: a scrappy open source challenger, Android.

While the iPhone has without a doubt been the big success story of the past year in the mobile phone world, many other companies are planning to release similar devices this year to challenge its status as the undisputed king of smartphones. Some of the more intriguing competitors for the iPhone will be those devices that are powered by Android, Google's open source mobile platform.

Google said in November that it developed Android to spur innovation among developers to create applications for mobile phones that wouldn't be exclusive to particular carriers or devices. In contrast to the iPhone, which developers previously had to unlock in order to create and distribute their own applications, Google said that Android would create a truly free environment for third-party developers.

Months later, Apple decided that it wanted to encourage third-party application development as well and released its software developers kit (SDK). Additionally, Apple said it would help developers distribute their applications by creating an AppStore that would let consumers browse and purchase individual applications much as they do with music and movies on the iTunes store.

So now that Apple and Google are both openly courting third-party developers to write applications for their platforms, the question becomes just what those platforms offer developers in terms of ease of use, support and distribution models.

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