Feb 28

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Android Market: Developers worried about bad sales

A while ago, Android Market opened for paid sales. While this finally opens opportunities for Android developer to get some money for their efforts, there are some serious problems currently.

One reason for this is bad performance and downloading problems, as well as problems with the copy protection features as you can read in the official Android Developers Google Groups. There are actually reports, that the copy protection feature can corrupt the APK files which will cause Exception when the application is launched. You can find this and other concerns of developers in the “Think twice before turning on the Copy Protection" option!” discussion on the Android Developers group.

It seems, that this is especially the case if users are installing a copy protected version of your application over an old non-protected application.

The another reasons developers worry, is about the slow/low sales of their paid applications. One of such worried developers is “Ed Burnette”, author of of “Hello, Android”.

He’s going into an very interesting topics, especially for developers who offer a free and a paid version of their application. One of the main problems he encountered with his paid application is, that he barely got any sales. So he thought, what could be done to change this.

In his case, his free application “Re-Translate Lite v1.2.0” was downloaded over 36.000 times, while his paid version of “Re-Translate Pro v2.3.0” (2,99$) was downloaded only 12 times.

One interesting thing he figured out, was that his total sales went up, while the active applications actually went down and many people simply uninstalled his application without requesting a refund.

So his goal was, to figure out what could be the reason for the bad sales he thought of a few reasons which could have lead to this bad sales, including

  1. Maybe the free version is working well enough for most users
  2. Perhaps the price is higher than users are willing to accept
  3. The application could be missing some important functionality that people need
  4. Users could be having a hard time finding the application
  5. Google only allows sales in the US at the moment, but maybe most users are outside the US
  6. Potential purchasers may be scared off by the Google Checkout system
  7. Perhaps people are having a hard time downloading and installing because of some systemic problem on the Market.

Now, without knowing his application exactly and the difference between his Lite and Pro versions, there could be many reasons why an application is sold badly.

I think one of the most important reasons, an application is sold badly is because not many people may find it very useful or there are free alternatives which work good enough too. Usually mobile phones users are unwilling to pay much for applications (unlike PC users), especially if they can get it for free.

Without actually seeing the application, 2.99$ sounds quite high, especially if you’re rarely going to use this application. I think, 1.99$ for most applications would be a more appropriate price and 0.99$ for some simpler applications.

Recently there were many problems with the market and paid applications, which may have scared many people from buying paid applications. Sadly, there is nothing you could do as developer to change this, as it’s solely up to Google to fix this as soon as possible. And using other application stores such as AndriodGear or SlideMe. The main problem with this market systems is, that they are not widely spread and that you need a special application to access their offerings. And they are not currently shipped with the mobile phones, as Android Market is and this means: Much lower spreading of this tools and significantly lower audience.

Update: One of the reasons is also that paid applications are only possible with R33 firmware (the once which includes 1.1 SDK/Framework), which is currently only available in the USA. The reason for the delay outside of the USA may be related to an serious security exploit with the Android Market DRM system (which is indeed no real DRM at all!). Read more about the “Android Market DRM not safe”.

Ed Burnette started a pool in his Market Moves: You pick the next step post. So if you’re developer who offering paid application or planning to offer it in the near future, make sure to check out his blog post and give your vote there.

Permanent link to this article: http://tseng-blog.nge-web.net/blog/2009/02/28/android-market-developers-worried-about-bad-sales/

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