Incentives for Android Developers

android.gifThere have been many articles and posts recently on how some developers are losing interest in Android. As mentioned on the OStatic site, it’s all about economics. Currently, if you are relying on selling the app, in-app purchases or ad funding then in the majority of cases the app isn’t going to be viable. The types of apps that tend to be viable are those where the revenue opportunities lie elsewhere (e.g. Evernote relies on server service, pizza ordering app relies on purchase of physical goods) or they are just marketing/PR apps.

While I am still seeing Android smartphone app development is still on the rise, the area that has suffered most is tablet specific apps (Here’s a list I created – there aren’t many). As mentioned at Mobile Monday London this week, the current competitors to the iPad have flaws in that they make it more difficult for developers to make money.

The OStatic article concludes that Google might have to put in place economic incentives for Android development. What could Google do? Here are some ideas…

  • Have an Android Developer Challenge (like the first two) but just for tablet apps or just for Android Design conformant apps.
  • Lower the commission fees. Does Google really need to make money from apps? I think they might even be able to lose money given this isn’t their main revenue stream nor reason for having Android.
  • Improve the payment mechanism to make it open to many more people (e.g. Partner with Paypal?)
  • As with Apple, champion some high quality, higher price ‘own brand’ apps that show apps can be worth paying for and encourage people to buy other high price apps. Related to this, promote quality useful apps in the Play Store rather than, what I see to be, useless rubbish and games. It’s all about setting the ‘tone’ of the Store. [Google renaming the Android market to ‘Play Store’ hasn’t helped in this respect]
  • Think about providing app subscriptions in such as way that would be acceptable to newspaper and magazine publishers. i.e. Provide avenues to market that Apple doesn’t provide.