Android app sales skimpy, sluggish, slack, scanty...
Want profits? Build iPhone apps
Android-based smartphones may have passed the iPhone in terms of market share, but developers of Android apps aren't profiting from that rise. iPhone users buy far more apps.
"It is more challenging for developers in the Google Android Market than in the Apple App Store to monetize using a one-off fee monetization model," reads a report issued Friday by the app-watchers at Distimo.
Distimo's numbers put an empirical foundation under what Google's Android platform manager told Forbes earlier this year: that Mountain View is "not happy" with the low rate of paid-app sales in the Android Market.
Overall, iPhone apps have a crushing sales advantage over Android apps. Since the Android Market opened, only two paid apps have been downloaded more than a half-million times. In just the last two months, six paid apps in the App Store achieved that milestone.
As Distimo correctly surmises from that data: "The possibility [of] generating over 500,000 paid downloads is a real possibility for more applications in the Apple App Store than in the Google Android Market."
Paid games are also far more popular on the iPhone than on Android phones. In March and April, five games in the Android Market hit the quarter million–download mark – and that was worldwide. Over in the iPhone App Store, that same sales figure was reached by 10 paid games in the US alone.
Even Nokia's Ovi Store and the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace promote more apps than the Android Marketplace
One major reason for the success of iPhone apps, Distimo suggests, is that Apple's App Store moves more apps through their "Top Charts" for both paid and free apps than does the Android Market. The more apps that are brought to users' attention in this way, the more apps they'll buy. "Being visible in the top charts is very important for generating more downloads," Distimo explains, understatedly.
The difference in top-app exposure is striking. In April, the Apple App Store promoted 94 apps to their top 10 free and paid apps, while Google rotated only 26 apps into that highly visible position in the Android Market.
The difference between the top 300 apps in both app stores was also stark: Apple gave 843 free and 584 paid apps that status during April, while Google honored only 388 and 363, respectively.
Google recently revamped how it promotes apps in the Android Marketplace to improve the visibility of both paid and free apps. "Perhaps these, and future changes, will provide a higher probability for success for a larger proportion of the applications in the Google Android Market," Distimo says, proffering a bit of hope to Android devs.
Developers are pouring apps into the Android Market at such a rate that Distimo predicted in a prior report that the number of apps in Google's app store would surpass Apple's offerings by this fall. Whether those devs will make a decent living from that effort remains to be seen.
You can download a copy of Distimo's full report here (free registration required). ®
Google is unhappy?
For not selling more paid apps? Really?
Why would they be, when they don't make any money out of them? In Eric Chu's own words  the 30% commission from app sales "goes to carriers and billing settlement fees—Google does not take a percentage"
Google makes their money out of ads, and which apps have (more) ads? The free ones!
That's the problem right there, Google has absolutely no motivation to carry or even encourage paid apps.
iThings are bought by people with more cash than Android things; they spend more money on fart apps.
It's not rocket surgery...
"Want profits? Build iPhone apps"
You might want to qualify that line with "and already own a mac". If not then your first act of developing for the iphone is going to have to be spending a big wedge of cash on a machine for developing on, namely a Mac.
First of all, Android may be "open"source, most of the apps are not. Show me how many of them have the source avalilable? Some of them do this in violation of the license too. Half of the media players use bits and pieces from mplayer without complying with the GPL just to name an example. The mplayer guys should really do what busybox does - get a good lawyer and some thick necks to collect on enforcement. Too many freeloaders out there.
As far as paying. There is more to that than meets the eye. Most of the app syndrome is still driven by the "first wave". These are people who actually will think where they stick their credit card credentials for a recurring purchase.
I may not like Nokia in their current incarnation. I do not like Apple either. I am however happy to trust them with my credit card details.
There is no way in hell however that I am putting them into a "grocery" tablet with software of unknown origin regardless who is selling it. I have seen enough of that backdoored in my time. I will similarly recommend not to put details in to anyone who asks me. No thanks. Hacked build? Rooted ROM? Credit cards into it? Forget it. No way in hell.
Probably 70%+ of Android shipping devices are in the category where paid purchase likelhood is close to nil. Users are reluctant to put any credit card details in. Many devices ship with the market disabled. End of the day you get a much lower paying population than on iPhone where everyone is ready to pay from day one.
So figures are unfortunately about right and will continue to be right until Google institutes a "genuine android" program where it guarantees that any manufacturers customisations do not backdoor it. With stickers on the touchscreen which you remove before using it. Sounds like MSFT? I know it does. It is however the right solution.
We can rebuild him; we have the technology
I love Android and am also a developer, but I think the mobile Market is horribly designed.
For each app, there's the app icon on the left, which takes up 20% of the real estate for each item. Then on the right there's a 0-5 star rating which you can barely read, as well as a price tag. That's another 25% gone. All told, fully half of each item in the Market consists of its icon and price, which is useful information but that's also too much overhead; I say this because the name of the App is between them, and looking at very the top 6 on the list, 3 of the app names do not fit.
You can't even read the full name of 50% of the apps on the top list! It seems like a minor detail but it really disrupts the browsing experience. The name can't wrap onto the line below it because that line is reserved for the developer, which is also important information, but it is of secondary importance to the app name, imo.
Okay, so let's turn the screen sideways. You'd think that you'd get longer, more verbose entries, right? Wrong. Instead, half of the screen is now taken up by a big green blob of crap. Given that the height of most screens is not twice the width, you actually have even less text space in the "long view", and this is why I NEVER use widescreen in the market even though I use it for almost everything else.
Here's what I think. Just halve the app density, at least for the Top list. Every app should get two rows. The top row can stay pretty much as it is, and the bottom row should have a *brief* synopsis of what the app actually does. Currently, to get this rather important information, you have to click an item from the list and then usually click a 'more' button to expand the description because it only shows the first 3 lines by default.
For example, item #3 right now is "Wyse PocketCloud P" for $14.99. I can guess that the full name is "Wyse PocketCloud Player" but why do I have to? To actually find out what it is and why I should pay $14.99 for it, I go into the info page and read "PocketCloud enables remote access to Windows or Mac desktops over WiFi and 3G/4G networks" (blah blah blah) Okay, that's pretty awesome. I suspect that if this one-sentence synopsis were immediately visible, more people would buy it.
So, overall: make the entries twice as tall, and change the widescreen mode so that it makes the Market more readable and not less. Or even keep the landscape mode as it is, and save my "more verbose entries" idea for widescreen.
Did I mention that the widescreen Market absolutely blows?
The desktop Android market, on the other hand, is awesome. Trouble is, most users (when I say "most users" I mean "my mom" which I think is a reasonable approximation) don't even realize it exists. Maybe this could be somehow rectified, too? Just sayin'...