You might recall Ubuntu’s App Showdown last year. It was a competition for people to make apps for Ubuntu. The developer of last year’s winning application, Lightread, received a System76 laptop and Nokia 9 smartphone (which the second and third place developers also got). Back then, around a 130 applications were submitted.
Now, one year later, they’re launching the second edition of their App Showdown. This time for their mobile operating system, Ubuntu Touch. This year’s edition will run for 6 weeks, and submitted entries will be judged on five criteria; general interest, features, quality, design and promotion. The developers of the top 3 apps submitted by the end of the showdown will receive a Nexus 4 running Ubuntu Touch, and a chance to get their apps included in the stock Ubuntu Touch images.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this news leaves alarm bells ringing in my head. Let’s have a look at last year’s Ubuntu App Showdown, shall we? As I mentioned above, around a 130 apps were submitted. Canonical appear to have taken the page offline, but I still managed to find a cached copy somewhere.
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Let’s start at the top of the list;
Alg3py: Pending review
AnagramFinder: Pending review
AnagramSolver: Pending review
Armorforge: Pending review
BlubPhone: Pending review
Centric: Pending review
… Noticing a pattern yet? No? Let’s continue.
Circle: Pending review
Cookety: Pending review
Cuckoo: Pending review
Cuttlefish: Pending review
DarkSecretSoftware: Pending review
DayJournal: Page not found
Deltify: Pending review
Need I continue? Canonical are launching a new App Showdown contest, one year after the previous one. Yet almost all of the entries from the previous edition are still Pending review, including my own submission from back then (which, admittedly, wasn’t very good).
This also leaves me to greatly doubt the review process for selecting a winner in the previous competition. Because if these submissions have all been reviewed according to the rules they put up in last year’s competition, wouldn’t this mean that they already know whether it’s suitable or not for inclusion in the Software Centre? Of course these are just my thoughts, and they can’t be proven. But personally I think it’s quite likely the review board only reviewed what they thought looked interesting, without even sparing the rest of the apps a second glance. In case any of you would like to have a look at the full list of last year’s Ubuntu App Showdown, it can be found here.
When, half a year ago, I made a statement on this on Google+, I got the following response from David Planella:
“I’m sorry to hear that, and I apologize for the delay. I’m going to reply with the same answer I’ve just provided in another comment. Rest assured that we do care about application developers in Ubuntu, and we are constantly working towards a better experience for app authors to publish their app. We are aware that we have reached the limits of the current model, and that we need to provide a more robust, secure and responsive system to publish open source apps at no cost.”
He went on to say that “For now, a change has landed in MyApps recommending open source (and at no cost) apps to either use PPAs or to charge the minimum amount for the downloads. We realize this is not the optimal approach, but will work as a compromise until all of the pieces for the new app development process are in place.”
While I respect him for at least admitting that there is a problem, and providing a temporary solution, it still doesn’t change the fact that now, half a year after that message, it appears that nothing has changed yet. Which would mean they’re still short on capacity to review submitted apps. Yet, still they are launching a new competition, which is again quite likely to get anywhere between a 100 and 200 submissions.
Now, I’ll leave you all to think of it what you wish, but as far as I’m concerned, it pretty much isn’t worth the effort of participating in this year’s competition, seeing how likely it is that your application will never see the light of day in the Software Centre anyway.