Jul 8th, 2010

A trend’s been revving up around the Android-related blogosphere lately, and as a huge supporter of quality work from all of Android’s hard-working developers, I would love to help get the word spread about the Paid App Pledge. I recently joked about me not taking the pledge (and it was just that: a joke. I pay for many apps even if I don’t plan on using all of them often), and it seems some people got confused. Then, I realized Phandroid wasn’t talking about it! So let’s do this cause some justice.

What is the Paid App Pledge?

It’s a trend that got its humble beginnings on the insanely-popular social networking site Twitter (I’m sure some of you have heard of it). The goal of the pledge is to get you to spend $5 every week on apps alone: whether it be on a $7.99 game or five $.99 apps, we want to let developers in the Android market know that they can make money on our platform just as well as on – say – the iPhone (I honestly can’t think of a better example). At $5 a week, you’ll be spending $250 a year on apps alone. It seems steep, but I’m sure you can sacrifice a value meal one day out of the week to make it work, no? Currently, some developers have to provide free, ad-supported versions of their apps in order to make a buck. This is quite the catch 22 considering most users don’t really identify with advertisements and are quick to uninstall an app if they see any.


Surely they can’t expect developers to pour all of their blood, sweat, and tears into their projects only to see no more than $1,000 in revenue, right? (That figure was pulled straight from the air, but you get the idea.) Android is an open source platform, and with that comes the mindset that apps should always be free! “Give me what you’re offering and I will give you nothing but the tingly feeling you’ll get knowing someone’s using something you built.” In a dream world, that would suffice, but developers have to eat and pay bills as well, and they’ve spent a ton of their own time (and an over-abundance of whatever sanity they have remaining) making sure that you can get through your day-to-day tasks in a timely manner through the use of apps.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that you make an “effort” to reach that goal of $250. I don’t think it’s sensible to spend money on an app that you will have absolutely no use for or that isn’t worth paying for, but if there’s a trial version of an app that has everything you’ve been looking for, then pull the trigger on buying it. Don’t pirate apps. Don’t settle for something less. Buy what’s useful to you and help the developer out. It’ll encourage them to do even more and make even better apps. It’s a full circle that starts with the developers but can’t continue without you.

Alright, you’ve convinced me! How do I help?

The biggest thing is to make an effort to buy apps. Games will probably be the easiest to swallow seeing as it’s easier to find unique games than it is useful, unique apps. If a particular app has saved your butt in a tight situation one day, let the developer know by opening your wallet. Buy it, and who knows? Perhaps it’ll come in handy again if you face similar dilemmas.

You must know at least one friend with an Android device, no? If you don’t, then you haven’t been doing your job in trying to convert them over to our greener pastures! Encourage them to go beyond $Free.99 and grab up an app that you recommend. Show a particular app off to them and make them envy you until they have no reason (as they’ll have already raced to the market to download it for themselves). It’s long been said that word of mouth is the most effective tool in getting a message out, so start there!

If you have a Twitter account, be proud of your willingness to throw down coin for good, quality code by clicking this link and clicking the “Update” button. You’ll broadcast to all of your followers that you’re no cheapskate and that you appreciate the developers that have gotten the Android market to where it is today. Perhaps your initiative will push them into the right direction, as well (if they haven’t started on their way, already).

Android_Market_1st_Impressions 7

And don’t stop there! Be proud of the apps you’re downloading and using. Explain to your followers why those apps are special to you and deserved your hard earned money whenever you buy them. Your 140 characters could go a long way in spurring some well-deserved income for some of the nicer developers out there.

Finally, if a developer would rather have you donate to them, then don’t hold back! I’ve donated to a few market developers just to show them their work doesn’t go appreciated. I’ve also donated to a lot of ROM developers who’ve been the saving grace for getting my device exactly way I want and need it. This is also a great option for those that can’t access the paid market in certain countries. If they are asking for donations through PayPal or another outlet, go for it! Every bit helps, and it makes it clear to developers that their work is valued around the globe.

Whether or not you take this pledge up isn’t what’s really important, in the long run. Noone’s forcing anyone to do anything (nor can we expect everyone to be able to spend $250 on apps in one year, and subsequently find good uses for them), but working toward the goal would be more than enough to let Android’s supporters know that their time is not going to waste in targeting the platform that many of us refuse to part with. We always see the bigger companies coming out with great apps for the cost of absolutely nothing, and that’s great, but remember that some of the smaller guys in this equation bring just as much quality to the Android market, if not more.

Other things you should do to help keep the wheels spinning

Firstly, be sure to follow Chuck Falzone’s (of AndroidGuys.com) list on Twitter that follows everyone that’s taken the pledge. Chuck adds everyone that’s pledged to participate in this needed movement, so be sure you’ve tweeted the official pledge:

They say we won’t pay for apps, so I took the #PaidAppPledge to spend $5/wk. on #Android apps. How ’bout you?

The idea here is to get the list big enough to show some developers their hopes on the Android platform need not be thrown in the dumpster. Also, once you’ve tweeted the official paid app pledge, don’t stop using the #PaidAppPledge hashtag! If you buy an app, talk about it on Twitter and include that hashtag. It becomes a nice little discovery tool that could – in turn – have you buying a quality app that you otherwise might not have known about, and it could stand to bring and keep more members of this budding community together.

We all love Android, but if we don’t start showing some tender love and care to the developers that enable us to do what we want with our phones, then we’re at risk of losing them forever and – just like Vic Gundotra said at Google IO – that’s a future we don’t want.