Android Priests

So Jeff Jarvis has made a bet with Dave Winer that in a year’s time Google’s new App Inventor will have “not have had any effect on the priesthood of programming.” I’d be interested in the metric used to determine the winner, but that’s not really the question. Winer is incredulous at the idea that AppInventor will disintermediate coding, despite having in the past been an ardent cheerleader for the Internet end run around any other number of middlemen, most notably journalists. To Jarvis’ credit, he’s the only person I’ve heard in this discussion refer to programmers as a “priesthood,” though he tones down his usual slightly breathless revolutionary rhetoric:

As much as the web breaks down priesthoods, it created new ones. Developers are merely the latest. They say that mortals can’t do what they do. But what if they could? What if they could translate a thought not just into words and design but into action?

I think Winer is going to win, however, and the reason is that AppInventor is a solution without a problem. The “priesthood of programming” has already given its blessing to Android. The geek blogosphere talks about how it is only a matter of time before developers stop building apps for Apple’s evil, closed ecosystem, and the iPodiPhoneiPadiPhone 4 dies. It’s why developers are reacting with hostility to AppInventor. Developers are already developing for Android. They neither need nor want a Visual Basic like tool. The intended audience for AppInventor- the end users – don’t need or want it either. Google, having failed to attract non-developers to the platform with the ease of use and attention to user experience that somehow only Apple is able to deliver, are now trying to disguise a stick as a carrot. It won’t work. End users don’t want to be able to build Android apps. They want to be able to build iOS apps.