Monday, June 8, 2009

Recap of My Android Market Experiences

So I've been selling and releasing ad-supported apps on the Android market now for nearly 3 months. It's difficult to gauge success. I thought I wasn't really doing all that well, but it sounds like relative to all but the outliers in the iPhone market I'm doing pretty well. This iPhone developer is complaining about having a couple of apps in the top 100 in their respective category and still only pulling in about $20/day.

So here are some summary stats for reference.
  • I released my first paid app, ConcretePal, 83 days ago.
  • My average daily net income for that span is: $19.41
  • My average daily income from ads for that span is: $8.74
    I've released 22 total apps: 14 paid and 8 free (6 of those are ad-supported demo versions of paid apps)
Here's a visual breakdown:

I thought I was going to do very well in the market when I released Spades for $2.99, it was the only one on the market, and it sold very well. But as you can see, that didn't last too long. Sales for a given app settle down to a pretty low baseline, so you constantly need to be releasing new apps if you want to keep the revenue stream coming.

So, I'm not getting rich, but it's nice supplemental income. And it sounds like it's comparable to iPhone apps that are doing reasonably well.

I hope the sales do stay up all right over the next couple of months. I'm not going to be able to release any new apps, since I'm working full-time on my game for the Android Developer Challenge II. It's coming along pretty well. I just hope I can get a decent working version ready for submission by August.

Soon I'll post some screen shots and concept art to give you an idea of where it's headed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. An interesting question remains; what is the ideal price for your app? How do you determine this? Would you have made more revenue if the price would be 2 times more, or two times less?

Anyway, good luck with your game!

Derek James said...

Thanks. :)

On determining the ideal price...that's difficult to say. I've experimented with prices between $0.99 and $2.99 with Spades, and can't seem to determine a clear pattern. I've played with prices on other apps, but can't get a handle on the best price point. My basic rule of thumb is to charge proportionally to the amount of work I put into the app. Simple ones that take less than a day to code, I charge $0.99. Spades and Golf Solitaire are currently priced at $1.99, and PetBook is at $2.99. I priced PetBook this way because it's the only app like it on the market right now and it's targeted at a niche. Sales have not been great, though. $0.99 is the bare minimum you can charge, and most of my apps are priced there, so I'm not sure my revenue would be higher if my three apps priced higher than that were lowered. And I tend to think that I wouldn't have sold the same if the prices had been hired...but who really knows?

Anonymous said...

Let's say you upped your price three times and get only 40% of the sales after that. You would still have better revenue!

Still I think among the same lines, little work = low price. Also if you have to buy artwork or game sounds then you have to calculate this as well. B.t.w. great source for sounds:

Anonymous said...

This visual breakdown is for your total income, is not it?
So 20 USD daily come from all 22 apps, right?

Derek James said...

Yes, but I didn't release them all at once. I started with one app, and averaged about 2 apps per week.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about releasing a bilingual dictionary app (using offline database). At the moment I'm considering one of the following options:

1. Paid full version only (about 2USD)
2. Demo version (ads and reduced functionality) PLUS Paid full version.
3. Free full version only (with ads)

Any tips?

I wonder how much more ad revenue your free/demo (ad-supported) versions would pull in if there was no full version...

Derek James said...

I honestly don't think a paid version impacts revenue from a free, ad-based version. Why? My conversion rate is 1-2% on those apps that have a free version and a paid version.

Spades Free has had nearly 60,000 downloads but the paid version had only about 400 initial sales and now has 158 current installs.

So my advice would be to go with #2. Of course, you could be in trouble because there are already tons of bilingual dictionaries on the market (most of which are free). Unless yours is covering languages that aren't available, you might have a tough time.

sys.out said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Derek!
How much time do you spend supporting customers?Is it a time consuming activity for you?
My worst nightmare is to develope a bunch of apps and then be overwhelmed by customer's request.

Good luck

Derek James said...


I get about 5-10 emails a week from users. Some of these are complaints about download or checkout issues (which Google handles). Some are feature requests or requests for similar apps. And a few are actually just people saying they liked the app. I respond to those that warrant a response, and it's not that time-consuming, esp. considering my apps have over 40,000 combined active installs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response Derek.

Yeah, #2 was top of my list too.

From what I can see there is only one other bilingual dictionary (for my languages) and they charge over 5USD which I think is too much considering they are using a free database.

Is there any particular Ads system you would recommend?

Derek James said...

The only ad provider I have experience with is AdMob. It was reasonably easy to integrate into my apps, but I can't compare it with another service. As mentioned in this post, about half my revenue has been from ads, so it seems all right.

Google AdSense for Mobile is apparently in beta now, but I think you have to meet some minimum requirements to qualify for the beta testing. You can actually embed regular AdSense ads via a webview, but I'd heard of a dev's account being banned for doing this, as it is apparently a no-no (not sure why).

Anonymous said...

I checked out the AdMob website but couldn't find any answers to my initial questions, like:

1. Do you get paid per view or per click?

2. If its per view, what stops an app developer from excessive refreshing tactics?

3. What happens if the user is not currently online? Do you stop them from using the app?

My app's main advantage over an online dictionary wrapper is that it can be used offline. Sure, the demo version would need to serve ads so this benefit would not be there. They would need to get the pro version for that...

Anonymous said...

Some good stuff here:

Derek James said...

1. Do you get paid per view or per click?

Per click. And the amount per click varies based on a lot of factors which are not transparent.

2. If its per view, what stops an app developer from excessive refreshing tactics?

Too bad it's not per view. At the peak of Spades Free usage, I was getting over 200,000 views a day. Now I'm in the 80,000-100,000 per day range.

3. What happens if the user is not currently online? Do you stop them from using the app?

No...I don't think that would make most users very happy. Most people will have coverage most of the time, unless they live in the middle of nowhere (which would make you wonder why they bought such a phone in the first place).

Here's how it works: You position an adview object somewhere in your app. I happen to populate mine in dialog boxes that pop up between each hand in card games. An adview object attempts to fetch an ad from the server. If it does, it successfully populates, and the user can click on it, which opens a browser window to the advertised site. If the adview is unable to fetch an ad, where the ad would normally be, there is just a blank spot.

You don't have to be offline for an ad not to be fetched, though. Sometimes there are communication errors with the ad server. I think in some cases demand outstrips supply. AdMob supplies nice summary statistics, including what's called the "fill rate", which the percentage of ads your app really shows versus how many it tries to show. Most of the time, my fill rates are close to 100%, but not always. There was a day last month when they were zero, presumably due to some technical glitch.

What I did early on was just try it out in a very simple free app. That way you can get familiar with SDK without worrying about it impacting your target app.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for taking the time to explain. A couple of follow-on questions:

1. If I show an ad for each dictionary search, is it possible for the ads to be targeted to what the user has just searched for?

2. What's the recommended procedure for allowing a user to upgrade from free to paid app? Are they considered two completely separate apps?