Thursday, April 30, 2009

Android Update

I've been busy with school and continuing Android app development on the side.

Since the last time I blogged, I released Hearts, a paid version and a free version with ads, and an app called Billable, which logs billable hours and lets you email a summary of the activity. Unfortunately, they've all pretty much been flops. I got early bad reviews on both sets of apps, and though the ratings have gone up since then, I think there's a huge influence of the first 1-3 reviewers on your app. Hearts is especially disappointing, since I think both the interface and the AI are better than Spades.

One big difference is that I was the first to publish a version of Spades on the Android Market, while there was already a version of Hearts there when I published mine. I think being first to market is a pretty big advantage.

Some good news is that Spades Free keeps chugging along, still at #3 in Card & Casino Games, with 32,432 downloads (Hearts Free, by comparison, has had 781). But unfortunately, the click rate on my ads keeps steadily declining. I was hoping it would level out at around 0.1% per day, but it just keeps on sliding. Yesterday was the first day I'd made less than $10 from combined ad and sales, which really stinks.

It will be interesting to see how the market changes as it expands, but right now it seems to be pretty difficult to do consistently well.

For my next few apps, I'm going to focus on trying to convert directly into sales, rather than relying on ad revenue, by releasing less functional versions for free and fully-functional paid versions. My next app is a game, a version of golf solitaire with a golf theme. A while back I played Fairway Solitaire, which is a great golf-themed version of golf solitaire. I highly recommend it; it's one of the best casual games I've played. I think the general idea is a lot of fun, so I did my own riff on it, massively scaled-down, of course.

Here are some screenies of my game:

It should be ready for release in another week or so. I'm probably going to release a free version that just let's you play 2 holes, and another that lets you play the full 18. We'll see how that works. I think it could be a popular app, but you never know.


Anonymous said...

Can I conclude that it might be possible, though difficult, to develop Android apps for a living? With numbers like these you'd need to have at least 10 to 20 apps to pay the rent.

Finding a good business model is also very important. It is nice to read about your findings relating to adds, free apps and paid apps.

Would it be different for the iPhone (as it has so much more users?), probably not as there are so many more developers too I guess. Maybe things pick up for those Android developers that stepped in early as Android gets more users every day.

Anonymous said...

Your card game looks nice!

Anonymous said...

If you use Adsense you might get banned, other Android developers have been banned already.

This is from the Adsense policy page:


To ensure a positive experience for Internet users and Google advertisers, sites displaying Google ads may not:
* Display Google ads, search boxes or search results as a result of the actions of software applications such as toolbars.

Google ads, search boxes or search results may not be:
* Integrated into a software application of any kind, including toolbars.
* Placed on any non-content-based page.
* Placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads.

They could have applied these rules. Still it is quite a gray area we are in as Android developers. In a case such as a High Score page you could say that it is a fully independent page which has a right of existence on its own, allowing it to be used for Adsense ads. But if you have an empty page with an Adsense block on it purely to embed it as a web view, it is out of the gray into the dark for sure.

Derek James said...

Well, just a couple of days after experimenting with embedding AdSense ads, I took them out and replaced them with links to my paid versions in the Android Market.

Re: making a living just from developing Android apps...I think the customer base has to get quite a lot bigger and the market functionality needs to get quite a bit better for that to happen anytime soon.