As I am selling my own app on the Android Market rather than freeware/developed for others, I can share some sales statistics.
In the last 11 days since I launched my Database App…
- I have only had 21 sales
- 1 was cancelled by Google due to card fraud
- 1 was via PayPal. Incidentally, this was from Germany, a supported Android Market country so there’s no evidence yet that it’s worth providing PayPal for non-supported countries.
- 6 (that’s 30%) were subsequently cancelled within 24hrs. I am not sure if this is people using the refund process as a ‘try before you buy’ or these are pirates using the download, save and refund route.
13 paid sales in 11 days obviously isn’t good. I had one person complain that the app is expensive at £2.99 given that a comparable app on the iPhone App store is only $0.99. There isn’t a comparable app (apart from mine) on the Android Market yet.
This has has made me question why this is happening. Android has sufficient momentum now (more than 60,000 phone sold per day) to be able to support paid sales. On my android blog I previously wrote about the current problems with the Android Market. However, I don’t think this explains everything.
I get a sense of ‘deja vu’. A long time ago, I used to sell my own applications on Windows Mobile, Symbian and Java ME. Windows Mobile Apps sold very well while Symbian had a dual personality. UIQ apps sold much better than S60, even though S60 had by far (probably by factor of 10 or more) the greater number of phones in circulation. It was just about impossible to sell Java ME applications.
At the time, I put all this down to the types of users using the respective phones. Different platforms had users with different incomes and different expectations. And so it might be with Android and to a some extent iPhone.
As more people use smartphones, the proportion with higher incomes decreases and maybe they have less disposable income to buy apps. I have even heard it suggested that Android is attracting an iPhone sub-class who can’t afford the iPhone and hence also can’t afford the apps but I am not so sure this is true. Adding to this we have the ‘free’ Internet that may have conditioned people to expect things free or nearly free.
Whatever the reasons, it’s clearer what might be the affect of low (long tail) developer sales on the iPhone App Store and Android Market…
- Fewer fully featured apps will get developed. You can see this already. A very large proportion of apps on the Android Market are dictionaries, eBooks and fancy Watches.
- The few fully featured apps that do get developed won’t be maintained into the future. This means no new features, fewer bug fixes and no new versions (probably dropping off the store) when a new phone version ships that is incompatible.
- Fewer paid apps. Instead, more ad-funded or other business models.