updated 07:55 pm EDT, Mon August 31, 2009
Android App Sales Low
A look at one Android app's performance today suggests Google may be unintentionally stifling its smartphone OS. While a recent AdMob study estimates Android Market's paid app market is only worth $5 million, Larva Labs' Matt Hall notes that even high-profile, highly rated Android titles generate "much lower" revenue than iPhone equivalents. Despite having one sustained top-selling $5 game (Retro Defense), a consistent fifth place seller (Battle for Mars) and being highlighted by Google, the company's daily average revenue was just $62.39 for all its apps combined.
In relation, an iPhone app with a fifth place position in the App Store is predicted to earn about $3,500 per day, or more than what the same Android title would generate in 56 days. Android apps' sales figures are only likely to be worse for apps that rank lower, Hall adds.
At least some of the poor revenue is blamed directly on Google's approach to marketing paid apps on Android Market. The company defaults to showing free apps first and forces users to enable viewing paid apps themselves. Any app is also limited to a short 325-character description and can't even come with screenshots -- an "insane" decision given how much time is spent developing apps, according to the developer.
For those who do want to buy, Google Checkout is the only choice and isn't well-adapted to large volumes of sales. Failed downloads also remain a significantly larger problem on Android Market than on the App Store.
Google has been contacted for comment but hasn't had an opportunity to respond.
The observations support behavior noticed in the earlier study, which noted that just 19 percent of Android smartphone users bought apps and that the average price for these was lower than for iPhone or iPod touch purchases. While it's not clear what's most likely driving Apple's success with third-party development, its store has readily visible top ten lists for both paid and free apps and shows new apps without preference to their actual cost.