In a feature published by the New York Times about the market ecosystem on Android, developers were asked to give their thoughts on the platform and why it wasn’t generating more cash than the app store. The article itself was about Android’s tremendous growth over the past year and why developers are starting to take it more seriously, but one developer didn’t take too kindly to their only quote being a negative one. Mark Hall – co-founder of Larva Labs – had this to say previously:
“It’s not the best impulse-buy environment,” said Matt Hall, co-founder of a developer outfit called Larva Labs that makes games for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices. “It’s hard to think of an application that you would sit there and put your credit card information in for.”
An old quote, he says, and things are much different since. In a post on the company’s blog, he aims to update his position on Android and has nothing but positives to dish out. Back in August 2009, the company’s two games on Android – RetroDefense and Battle for Mars – generated a combined $62.39 per day. Ouch, right? This is in comparison to the iPhone, which – at that time – saw developers getting $250,000 in sales in just two months.
But that was at a time where there were literally as many Android phones on the market as you have fingers on one hand. A lot’s changed since then, no? We’re at a point where new Android devices are being launched and announced every day, and the trend doesn’t look to be slowing down. User adoption has been just as big as recent numbers have Android showing 4-digit growth from just a year ago: right before the Droid was released. We all know what happened after Verizon adopted Android and went right after AT&T and Apple with arguably the most influential marketing campaign in Android’s history.
Being the smart developers they are, LarvaLabs predicted that Android wouldn’t remain unfruitful and kept their eyes on the prize when they could’ve been pushing all of their resources into the iPhone.
I should add that even though these numbers are pretty disappointing and currently don’t represent a viable business, we’re still excited about Android in the medium to long term. There’s been some talk from Google of improvements to the market, including more payment options, so that will definitely help.
We’re also going to see some big phone releases from Motorola among others, but the main issue just seems to be the market itself and it’s low purchase rate (19% vs. 50% on iPhone). I’m sure Android will be on a lot of phones at some point in the future, whether it’ll be possible to target it profitably as a small developer I’m not sure.
And then we fast forward to today. Matt Hall states they’re doing much better on Android, achieving “several multiples” of their previous numbers reported in August 2009. He states they’ll have a new report up soon to shed more light, but assures us that things have improved greatly and that Android is worth future investment.
Hall believes that not developing for Android at this point would be a grave mistake, saying:
Android is now unquestionably a required platform for new apps. Six months ago we got questions about whether Android was worth supporting, now that’s not in question.
While we can’t take that as law, it does match the trend we’re beginning to see. Just as phones were before, apps for Android were scarce. Notable releases only came about once in a while and everything just felt really slow. And just as phones are now, there’s no shortage of apps to be had as developers compete for mind share on a platform that’s still up for grabs on many major fronts (including gaming.)
It may take a while longer for apps from other high profile studios to make their way to Android as companies may have mis-calculated Android’s worth and growth. (Which is understandable: no one wanted to invest resources into what could have become another failed market. No offense to our webOS-owning friends, of course.)
As for LarvaLabs? They say to expect a lot more going forward, of course. We’ll be keeping our eyes glued on their new developments as we head into 2011, and we hope (and expect) other developers to treat this growing (but admittedly still flawed) ecosystem similarly going forward.