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As an avid fan of tablets, I finally bought a Nook Color a while back. Since it's based on Android and I have Java experience, I'm intrigued by the possibility of developing for it. I've seen that it has an estimate of a few million units shipped (those stats were fairly recent), and the app market is rather small at this time (which I presume would be an advantage to a new app).

What I'm wondering is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of developing for such a small, reading-based market - in terms of app popularity and use? Am I wrong in assuming the small app market is an advantage? Does developing for a niche tablet have any synergy with the larger phone market, in terms of cross-development or promotion?

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Related meta-discussion question: Are business development and market research questions appropriate on programmers? – user8 May 21 '11 at 23:01
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IMHO, especially if you're writing it on your own, developing for a niche market can be a good idea. Why? Less bandwidth requirements, less tech requirements, less specialized knowledge required (unless they run on the same OS - I have zero knowledge of the Nook).

It gives you a chance to fully flush your ideas out without spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms. It gives you the ability to fully focus on the functionality rather than cross-platform development.

I'd say, start small. Start focused. If there's buy-in and people want your app, then look at porting it. If you're developing for a touch screen for the nook, then porting to other touch screen devices shouldn't be too difficult (you don't have to deal so much with usability differences than tech stack differences).

Having said that, don't develop close-minded, design with extensibility in mind.

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Unless there is something terribly specialized in the Nook that you are targeting, is there a reason you can't write your code for a more general target? I'm thinking that Android must have appropriate ways for your code to see what the hardware is (screen size, memory, etc), and adjust itself accordingly. Even if you release first on the Nook, writing for the more general case would allow you to release eventually on more Android devices, thus expanding your possible market.

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Yeah, that's probably a good idea - write for a general target. I suppose I would have to get an Android test phone (as I have an iPhone) to make it work on those, at some point in the development process (not thrilled about paying for one of those, oh well though). – jqueryrocks May 22 '11 at 0:54
You'd probably want to test on a number of Android devices eventually. If your first target is the Nook, write it properly, but just test on the Nook and then ship it. After you get some sales, get another device, test it, fix the stuff you missed, ship it for more devices. That lets you get it out there for the one device ASAP, while not cutting off your future. – Michael Kohne May 22 '11 at 12:31

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