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Reverse Exodus: Why Devs Should Flock To Android

On Friday we shared with you a story about Gameloft, a mobile game creator that expressed their frustration with Android in the face of iPhone success. The company says they are pulling their time, money and other resources AWAY from Android and towards the iPhone and other platforms and suggest that other software developers are doing the same thing. That doesn’t sound too good for the future of Android.

dev-uturnBut every coin has two sides, and if you flip Gameloft over you’ve got Whitepages, a company saying the exact opposite:

“Mobile games publisher Gameloft might have thrown in the towel on Android, but that is a mistake. I certainly understand why they gave up on Android. Since launching in February of this year, our own Whitepages Caller ID app has become a top ten grossing Android application, and yet we’ve seen less than $54,000 in revenue. While our iPhone app download counts are in the millions, our Android app downloads are a mere 17 percent of this volume.”

Kevin Nakao, VP of Mobile for White Pages, made a guest post on TechCrunch explaining why developers would be smart to jump into the Android development world right now. The mistake Gameloft is making, Nakao argues, is in seeing the potential and he provides 5 reasons:

  • Continual improvements in Android Market and the ability for consumers to buy applications elsewhere fuel waves of renewed consumer interest
  • Easier billing through carriers is coming
  • Apps running in the background will be KEY to location based advertising
  • Momentum is just beginning, Android adoption about to boom
  • Leverage Android – in addition to a better app review system, Android has many core functionalities that are blocked on the iPhone and other platforms. Take advantage of your resources and build an innovative app rather than a simple port.

I totally agree and think there is a 2 part issue:

  1. Android only has about 22% of the market share that iPhone does and Whitepages is experiencing only 17% of the volume in sales. To be honest, keeping relative size in mind, the number of sales Whitepages does on Android isn’t that bad. As Android moves from 3.9% market share to MUCH higher in 2010 and beyond, the volume will reach and surpass Apple who currently has 17.1% market share. [Source]
  2. Why does Apple sell more apps per/user than Android? Probably ease of use with the App Store compared to the Android Market. This is a problem that, while not necessarily EASILY overcome, I can almost guarantee that Google is working on.

Long story short: Android adoption is about to boom while Google simultaneously improves the market experience. This will all occur in 2010 and developers with a vision will be incredibly ahead of the game by 2011, when Android vs iPhone race gets ridiculously close in terms of Market Share.




  • twrock

    >>”Why does Apple sell more apps per/user than Android?”

    I still think there is not enough consideration of the actual end users, the difference between the “typical” iPhone user and Android user. It is far too narrow to only think the difference is in the app store experience only. Compare GNU/Linux users to Apple Mac users and you see an even more striking difference in attitudes, values, beliefs, and purchasing patterns.
    Personally, I believe iPhone users will always purchase more apps per person than Android users. (I’m talking about actually paying for the apps, not downloading free apps.)

  • vman81

    My biggest beef is that the android market is CLOSED in many countries.

    We’ve had android devices in Denmark for about 4 months, and we can only access free apps.

    FLIP THE SWITCH ALREADY, GOOGLE!

    I hate the feeling of “I WANT to pay for stuff, but to get it I’d have to resort to piracy”

  • Josh

    Android-Users don’t use the way an iPhone-user uses the app store because they don’t need to use it. You can install any apk or use slide-me to install apps.

  • ulvhamne

    I agree with the “Flip the frikkin switch already!”
    I am a dev, and a user of android. Before I get to be able to pay for apps, and even more so, charge for apps, I have put all my android development on hold. If I could, I would take the plunge and take half a year of unpaid leave from my current job and make games/apps for android and throw them up for sale. I’ve got the finances to do just that, but since there would be no way for me to regain lost finances as of now, there is no way Im gonna do it.

  • ari-free

    so with slideme you can sell apps to anyone anywhere in the world?

  • Son

    U can’t return app in the apple store, once you bought it, if it s*ck, you’re screwed.

  • bj

    The only Android phones that should be counted in the total marketshare in these sorts of comparisons should be those in countries with a paid market. Yes I know about Market Enabler (and use it in Canada) but it requires a rooted phone and some technical knowledge that your regular phone user is not going to have.

    The biggest issues I see is the very slow rollout of the paid market versus the rollout of the phones. They should have been simultaneous. New users getting used to only having free apps is only going to increase their resistance to having to pay for apps.

    Contrary to the comments of another poster I don’t think the demographics are that big an issue. I am willing to bet that most users are not even aware the phone is running Linux, or the whole FOSS movement.

    The second issue is the rather brutal search and sorting mechanisms in the actual market. It is difficult to actually find new and interesting apps from within the market. I tend to rely on 3rd party websites, websites, and xda-developer comments to find new apps. One recent datapoint showed 25% of users still on 1.5 and that version’s Market app does not even have pictures.

  • AlanW

    See Paul Graham’s take on the App store hurting the iPhone at

    http://www.paulgraham.com/apple.html

    He isn’t bullish on Android, but it is hard to see what else could take on the iPhone.

  • ken

    I think there is the same percentage of paying Android users as iPhone. I believe, like in most systems, it’s about 5% of users that support the platform monetarily. I have personally purchased roughly 30 or so apps for android. In contrast, I’ve purchased quite a bit more on my iPod (40 or so).

    It’s not that I believe iPod applications are better. It’s that I have more app storage space on my iPod. When the impulse strikes to purchase something on Android, I’m often paralyzed with the decision on what application this purchase must replace. So not only does an app have to be purchasable, it also needs to have a perceived right to be in my stable.

    If app storage was greater on android phones (or app could be moved to the SD card), I’m sure there’d be more app purchases.

  • D9

    Not sure who felt it acceptable to ignore the consumer in this whole equation, but I can state that everyone I speak with who has an iPhone LOVES the App Store.

    Just like the iTunes Store did for song downloads on iPods, so the App Store does for the iPhone…it keeps the mindshare. The problem for Android and even more so the business-concentric Microsoft (have you read some of the ridiculous statements coming from Redmond lately on this matter?!) is that like the iTunes Store, Apple now has heavy brand-recognition.

    Any store working as well or even slightly better than the App Store will not be enough alone to overtake the iPhone market. Just ask SanDisk, Creative Zen and Microsoft Zune how well being just as good as the iPod has done for them.

  • jose

    great post. Those devs that jumped ship bailed out too early.

    @D9 I understand what you are trying to say but the smart phone market is nothing like the mp3 player market. I guess you are trying to imply that Google wont generate as much if not more revenue through their app store than apple will? Apps wont sell as much in the immediate future but the android marketplace along with android adaptation is like a snowball rolling down a mountain.. as they pick up steam they will get bigger and bigger. Once they surpass apple with market share I doubt apple will be able to keep up the pace.. They don’t have any options for consumers. What apple is doing reminds me of an old Henry Ford quote (paraphrasing) “You can have any car as long as its black” and where did that get Ford? ford ended up losing a giant chunk of market share because they refused to offer options to their consumers, and lets not get into the limited innovation that can happen in the app store as a result of apples strict policies.

    Please do not compare the app store to the android market because it is an unfair comparison because the app stores install base includes i pods. Those type of comparisons aren’t even fair.

  • ari-free

    Don’t always go by what’s easiest for consumers. The mac was easier than the PC but the PC won out. AOL was so mainstream that there was even a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie about it. It fizzled in the face of billions of http://www.something.com.

  • ari-free

    another point: android is what a lot of developers will want for their own phone so they will develop for it. Most developers use pc’s and can’t develop for iPhone without a mac. On the other hand, you can also develop for android from a mac and many mac devs are porting their popular iPhone apps to Android.

  • a

    @twrock Yes, but that will change when android really become mainstream.

  • http://androidphonefans deezle

    Everyone kinda sidestepped ken’s point.What will it take for manufacturers of android handsets to realize that with an ever growing market,our onboard storage is going to be more of an achille’s heel than it already is?Up the off-sd storage,snapdragons on all smartphones from here on out,auto focus,flash,etc….

  • Jim Catanzarite

    You are all looking for logic here. Consumer behavior is far from logical and it’s almost impossible to change that. Apple’s genius is understanding that behavior and taking advantage of it. Google thinks like and engineering company, Apple thinks like a consumer products company. It would be a mistake to expect consumers to adopt to your system, even if it is superior, if it requires the consumer to alter their behavior. It won’t happen.

    Google needs to fix the store. It needs an attractive and useable web interface for the store as well as a better on-phone experience. It needs to upgrade the look of the Android OS. It needs to make the entire user experience more intuitive; more average consumer friendly.

    As the iPhone has shown, you don’t have to have the best capabilities to win in the market place, but you must make the capabilities you offer easy to use and easy to understand. That applies to the Android OS as well as the Android Market.

  • G

    @vman81 & @ulvhamne

    Same here no payed apps in canada…

  • HotDawg

    For well-crafted apps I use everyday (or did on iPhone) I am more than happy to pay. It’s nice to get free apps, and it’s great to be able to test them, but I’m perfectly willing to pay a competent dev for his/her work. Still, there aren’t many really slick Android apps yet. Waiting for the iPhone folks to jump the fence.

  • http://www.drscience.com Rick

    So iPhone users buy more apps than Android users? Gee, could that have anything to do with the fact that Apple’s advertising stopped hyping the phone several months ago and now strictly promotes the app store? New iPhone buyers buy the phone because “there’s an app for that.” There may also be an Android app for that, but you’d never know it from the ads I see.

  • Bob

    I don’t like the Android Market at all. It is a pain to find things and they don’t have a search feature when using it from a PC. It is very ironic to me that Google can’t setup a search feature for the PC. I would really like to be able to search and browse for apps on my PC then type searches into my phone.

  • Drew

    Gameloft reversed their decision. Read the article below.

    http://www.macworld.com/article/144093/gameloft_android.html

  • bob

    Seems like the biggest problems with Android market is you can get a refund 30 days after purchase. So it’s got to be a pretty good app to keep that long. Also it doesn’t track updates. I actually had to download a 3rd party app to know if updates are available for my installed applications. If they made the refund period like 2 days and provided some tools for managing apps then the android market would take off big time.

  • bob

    The other problem with android market is phone makers not wanting to upgrade phones to the most recent version. They really should make the most recent Android available on all phones.

  • Steve

    From a developers standpoint, I can choose roles or prosperity. I can choose freedom but starve. Over and over we here that the Google Market Place is joust doing a good job of selling paid apps and at the end of the day, what matters is that monthly pay check. Google needs to address the mindset of its users that seem much much less likely to be willing to pay even a buck for an app. And then, after using it for a while (or getting a few good laughs) want to return it. So Google has made (from a selling standpoint) a very consumer friendly site and very hostile developer site. Enough to keep me away from it.

    Until Google figures that out, the faster moving snowball down the hill is, by far, the iPhone platform. So choose…

    Rules and eat.
    Freedom and starve.