So you’ve published an iPhone app, and an iPad app, and are looking to expand your market. Or maybe you arnt such a big fan of Apple and simply want a different platform to publish on. The natural choice for many has become the Android operating system. What is it? What is the market like? Can I make money as an app developer on Android? What are the rules for Android apps?

There are a number of great articles and research that have been published online about this, but it does not seem to all be in one place, so the team at Appency decided to gather as much relevant Android information as possible and put it all down in one place. Mind you – most of this is copy/paste directly from other articles, and we have made sure to provide links back to the original information. Enjoy!

What is Android?

Android is an operating system for mobile devices such as cellular phones, tablet computers and netbooks. Android was developed by Google and based upon the Linux kernel and GNU software. It was initially developed by Android Inc. (a firm later purchased by Google) and lately broadened to the Open Handset Alliance. Android apps are sold on the handset via the Android Marketplace, as well as online in a number of third party app stores.

List of Android Devices: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Android_devices

Device Market Size:

According to NPD Group, unit sales for Android OS smartphones ranked second among all smartphone OS handsets sold in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2010. BlackBerry OS holds 36%, with Android at second with 28%, and iOS is ranked third with 21%. A Nielsen report for the second quarter of 2010 placed Android’s share of new U.S. sales in second place with 27% of the market, behind BlackBerry OS (33%) and ahead of iOS (23%).
In terms of existing share however, RIM holds the lead with 35% of smartphones while Apple is a close and growing second at 28%. Android trails far behind at only 9% of the share, a distant fourth place.

App Market Size:

According to Engadget, Android Market has approximately 70,000 live applications which makes it the second largest app store. Distimo however reports however that almost 57% of those apps are free, compared to Apples 25%. The average price of paid android apps is similar to Apple at $3.27 to Apples $3.62. There are approximately 3,005 new apps per month in the Android Marketplace to Apples 14,000.

The number of developers for the android platform is less than a fourth of that developing for the iOS platform, with a very small component developing across platform.

Selling Apps:

Developers of priced applications receive 70% of the application price, with the remaining 30% distributed between carriers (if authorized to receive a fee for applications purchased through their network) and payment processors.

Revenue earned from the Android Market is paid to developers via Google Checkout merchant accounts. T-Mobile, the first carrier with an Android device, recently began Android Market update with Google to allow apps to be billed to the account and show up as a charge on the bill.

Only nine countries are allowed to distribute Android paid apps currently because of Google checkout restrictions, points out Hoogsteder. Consumers from only 13 countries can get access to paid content.

Countries with access to Paid Applications:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States   

The full country list that is updated by Google is here.

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.

Submission Process:

There is very little approval process in the Android market, however Google has been known to pull apps (namely the tethering apps for T-Mobile phones). You simply go to the android market page at market.android.com/publish and submit your information. The account registration fee is $25.

Once you’ve set a price for an application, you may choose to change it at any time, however if you have previously published an application for free, you cannot change it to have a price. You’ll need to re-upload a new APK and add a price.

Allowable price ranges:

  • USD: $0.99 – $200
  • GBP: 0.50 GBP – 100 GBP

The Android Marketplace  defaults to showing free apps first and forces users to enable viewing paid apps themselves.

Once you’ve registered, it’s easy to upload your application to Android Market. From the home screen, select “Upload Applications.” You’ll be asked to fill in the following information for your app.

  • Language: This is to denote the language of your application. Default language is US English. More languages will become available as Android-powered devices become available in those languages.
  • Title: The name of your application as you would like it to appear in Android Market. You may add one per language.
  • Description: The description of your application as you would like to appear in Android Market.
    • This description can only be 325 characters long!
  • Application Type: Android Market is divided into 2 major applications types: “Applications” and “Games.” Please choose one.
  • Category: You must select a category for your application. Available categories include:

Applications

  • Comics
  • Communication
  • Entertainment
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Lifestyle
  • Multimedia
  • News & Weather
  • Productivity
  • Reference
  • Shopping
  • Social
  • Sports
  • Themes
  • Tools
  • Travel
  • Demo
  • Software libraries

Games

  • Arcade & Action
  • Brain & Puzzle
  • Cards & Casino
  • Casual

Publishing options in the Android Marketplace

  • Copy protection: Copy protection helps prevent applications from being copied from a device. Increases the amount of memory on the phone required to install the application. (You may also implement your own copy protection scheme.)
  • Locations: These are the locations in which you may distribute your applications.
    • Not all locations listed currently have users with Android-powered devices.
    • You may select locations one-by-one or choose the “All current and future locations” option. This option means that, as we add more distribution locations, these locations will be enabled for your app. Before you check this option, please brush up on Export Compliance.
    • Note: At this time, you may only sell applications to users in these locations.

Contact information

  • You must pick one support channel for your app – Website, Email, or Phone
  • This information is viewable to users from Android Market
  • You may choose to offer multiple channels for support

Other Distribution Methods:

Andspot: Currently in a private beta, Andspot is an alternative Android marketplace that will offer developers 80% of the download profit from their apps instead of Google’s 70%. To sign up for the beta, you can go to http://andspot.com/index.cfm

SlideMe: (From their site) Have an application that Google prevents you from stocking in the Android Market, leaving you and your app stranded? Are there users desperate to buy your application but they don’t have access to Google Checkout or the Android Market? Do you want to show off your app but feel limited by not having screenshots or video in the Android Market?

If so, then you’ve found the right place at SlideME, the Original Market for Android (We launched our portal and mobile client in April 2008). What we do for the developer is simple. We provide a way to market, deliver and download content to users that you wouldn’t have access to in your traditional channels.

From the moment you stock an application, we provide you a web page where you can add a description, screenshots and videos showing off your application. You can have a discussion with your users or they can review your application right on your page.

Your application also shows up in SAM, our mobile client for discovery and download of Android applications. You can include up to three screenshots and a YouTube video within the mobile catalog, giving potential users a good idea of what your app does. No more trying to cram that into a 325 character description with ascii art.

SlideMe does not take a revenue share from the applications and is negotiating deals to pre-load their app store onto handsets around the world. Currently they hav ea relationship with Vodaphone Egypt to do this. The SlideMe app store will also be on Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 phones sold in the middle east.

SlideMe also provides their “SlideSlock” program to help prevent free distribution of your app files.

AndAppStore: Another royalty free distribution service created by UK company Funky Android Ltd.  The site still looks extremely beta and should be watched for growth. http://andappstore.com/AndroidApplications/

Handango: Once your application to register as a Software Partner is approved and you submit software for sale, Handango retains 40% of the revenues (excluding taxes) for products sold through the main Handango Web site at www.handango.com. For products sold through our Value-Added channels, we retain 40% of the revenues (excluding taxes), and their commission can increase only if they perform.

GetJar: GetJar is your one-stop shop for publishing all your mobile content to reach a global, mass-market audience. With more than a billion downloads coming from 200+ countries. (More then 2MM downloads a day)

GetJar provides:

  • Easy sign up and zero cost to upload your content and get started.
  • Fast Time to Market with a two (2) business day approval process.
  • Global reach to more than 25 million consumers.
  • Promotion and hosting to boost your user growth

Your applications get published on GetJar.com and our mobile site m.getjar.com but also across all our premium channels including:

  • Mobile operators like Vodafone, Virgin, Optimus, Sprint, Reliance and others.
  • Handset providers like Sony Ericsson and Blackberry.
  • 3rd Party channels like Opera Mini and Others.

External Links

Other Android App Distribution Channels:

App Listing Sites:



17 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the very useful and detailed overview.

    The one critical fact for iPhone developers who are considering moving an app to Android is buried in the middle of your post. This is that the typical revenue for a paid app that is equally ranked in both stores is 50 times higher in the iPhone app store than on Android. From other sources I have heard the ratio is usually 100 to 1.

    Therefore, until Google gets serious about promoting paid apps and making payment easy and available around the world, there is simply no incentive for a developer to put a paid app on Android. The true revolution of the iPhone App Store was that Apple created an entirely new outlet for independent developers, but Google has failed miserably to replicate this.

    Comment by AppHound — August 6, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  2. Completely agree with AppHound. Apple also has plenty of sites promoting their store (eg. Toucharcade.com). Not sure how Google encourage this but it’s very important if they want their Market place to succeed.

    Comment by Bob — August 8, 2010 @ 1:40 am

  3. Thank you for the article.

    In regards to the previous comment, I think it is unfair to blame Google for having failed to recreate the Apple app market. Google never tried to recreate the same thing.

    Apple has built an ecosystem where the user is used to paying. The whole Apple world is a “premium” thing. People who are ready to pay go for iPhones, so of course they are more ready to buy apps. On the other hand, Android is open source and has a totally different philosophy and its primary adopters are used to the web/open source ecosystem, where most services are given for free to the community.

    So up until now, there has been a natural selection both among the developers and the audiences of the platforms. No wonder the cross-platform apps are rare. When iPhones and Android phones get more or less equivalent in the general public’s mind, the revenue discrepancy on marketplaces will tend to decrease.

    Comment by Evan — August 11, 2010 @ 2:12 am

  4. Thank you for the article.

    In regards to the previous comment, I think it is unfair to blame Google for having failed to recreate the Apple app market. Google never tried to recreate the same thing.

    Apple has built an ecosystem where the user is used to paying. The whole Apple world is a “premium” thing. People who are ready to pay go for iPhones, so of course they are more ready to buy apps. On the other hand, Android is open source and has a totally different philosophy and its primary adopters are used to the web/open source ecosystem, where most services are given for free to the community .

    So up until now, there has been a natural selection both among the developers and the audiences of the platforms. No wonder the cross-platform apps are rare. When iPhones and Android phones get more or less equivalent in the general public’s mind, the revenue discrepancy on marketplaces will tend to decrease.

    Comment by EvanG — August 11, 2010 @ 2:14 am

  5. I think that the biggest reason that Android has such a glut of free apps, is that Google Checkout does not allow developers in quite a few countries to sell paid apps and thus they have to resort to free with ads in order to try and make any money. The problem is, that creates an imbalance that will be hard to fix.

    Comment by aaronwatkins — August 27, 2010 @ 11:40 am

  6. Simply put, payment must be easy.

    Comment by lemar — August 30, 2010 @ 8:06 am

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    Pingback by Essencial para vender App’s para Android — September 1, 2010 @ 3:51 am

  8. “but Google has failed miserably to replicate this.”

    I think it’s more likely to be the fact that apple users will pay money for anything where as android users will only pay for useful/quality apps and games.

    For example: fart apps, the app called ‘nothing’ which actually does nothing, the $10,000 app etc.. all sell well on apples app store.

    Comment by behelit — November 24, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  9. Just wondering. Are there costs involved if you want to have your app/widget appear first in some categories? how much, if so?

    Comment by dinjcons — January 27, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  10. Good article, and points out the low paid sales for Android that I’ve heard. There’s another important point that should be mentioned. One that has kept us from porting our apps to Android, more so than low potential paid Android sales. That’s the fact that when developing for iOS, we know exactly what devices we are building for.

    With Android, it’s anyone’s guess which phone the customer will have, what screen size, memory, accelerometer, GPS…. Who knows. To make things worse, it seems every company is coming out of the woodwork to out-spec each other for new smart phones and tablets for Android.

    Like it or not, at least with Apple we know what devices we’re writing code for, who our customers will be, and where we’ll sell the app. Rumors of the new iPad having a larger screen , new iPhone being smaller aren’t going to help Apple if true. It’s hard enough having to deal with up to 3 sets of artwork assets and possibly 3 different builds for an iOS app if your aiming for all iOS devices.

    Comment by Wayne — February 21, 2011 @ 4:05 am

  11. I think android’s strategy of building a more open platform will allow it to gain a much broader market share. It reminds me of the old PC vs Mac days where Microsoft targeted a broader range of hardware their software would run on while Apple limited their opportunities by limiting the hardware their software would run on. It looks like Apple never learned their lesson from that and will lose market share as technology matures.

    Comment by Bill Pantos — November 15, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  12. This information is perfect!
    Thank you

    Comment by Chikki — December 7, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  13. Thank you for the article.

    I think also androlicious.com should be mentioned in the App Listing Sites.

    Comment by Mark — April 6, 2012 @ 4:39 am

  14. Very Informative Article Thank you….!

    Comment by Hamza — July 24, 2012 @ 8:17 am

  15. Hi,

    This article is great, but it would be better if there was an update. There? Thank you.

    Comment by Renato — August 17, 2012 @ 5:45 am

  16. This article should be re-written or deleted because it is so wrong now. Android controls over 50% of all mobile phone operating systems.

    Comment by John cropter — September 8, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

  17. Your article is too old , right now android rules and iphone is second.

    Comment by digital — December 5, 2012 @ 5:32 am

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