android10308.pngGoogle’s Android project, which lets outside developers build mobile software applications, is drawing interest. But Google has lagged on its offering; it’s not ready for prime time.

Not even the legal paperwork for its funding competition, Android Developer Challenge, is ready — though it was supposed to be yesterday (official site here).

As part of the competition, Google intends to distribute a total of $10 million to winning developers — cash awards to spur their efforts. Google’s lawyers have had well over a month to prepare this information.

In the words of one harried Google engineer:

Hello, Developers!
As you probably know, the Android Developer Challenge submission period for the first round is scheduled to run from today, 2 January, through 3 March. Unfortunately final testing revealed some cross-browser bugs in the application we’ll be using to allow you submit your work. We’re fixing those now, and will have the site up and running as soon as we possibly can. At the same time that the submission application becomes available, we’ll also make the final Terms and Conditions of the competition available. We apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience!

This has left developers hanging, as described on the blog of one third-party Android candidate:

I am looking forward primarily to legal stuff that can be either very favorable to the developer or get us sign away all our precious IP – depends on how the contest terms are phrased. A lot of us in the Android community bet heavy on the new platform and [we] might be very willing – or very reluctant – to play the Challenge, depending on what’s in it for [Google].

Last month, an increasing number of third-party developers complained about buggy software. At that point, at least one of them speculated that the company launched Android too early because it wanted to make its software developer kit (SDK) available to the public before Apple release its own within the next couple of months.

The problem with stealing the spotlight is that you still need to perform. As another developer told us, developing for Android at this point is “driving a car without a body, seats, and only two wheels.” However, as the developer notes, this is is just an alpha version of Android and “it is fair enough for such an early stage.”

Our previous coverage of Android here.

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