In August 2009, I started work on my first Google Android app. By mid-August, the app was finished and published on the Google Android market. This was the appeal of Google Android to me. No waiting for somebody to approve my app but let the market decide. No new programming language to learn (you use Java to program a Google Android app). Barely a price entry barrier to speak of (it costs only $25 to register as a Google Android developer).
Six months on and I’m still programming apps for Google Android, working on my 3rd paid app at the moment. I’ve got 4 free apps published (supported with ads) and 2 paid apps.
So… can you make a living programming apps for Google Android?
I am making some money from my apps but nowhere near enough to support myself fully. If you want a figure, let’s say I make about £80 a month, half of it coming from ads (I use AdMob) and half of it from sales.
My app with the most downloads has achieved almost 20,000 downloads (it’s a free app) and gets about 5,000 ad requests per day. However, I have had problems with my ad provider and sometimes, the ad fill rate is below 50% for several days in a row (the ad fill rate is the percentage of ad view requests actually fulfilled). My other free apps have 1000-5000 downloads, and my paid apps have about 50 downloads each (they are both new apps).
I have not spent anything on advertising the apps nor done any kind of PR because at the moment, I’m still honing my skills as a programmer in general and a Google Android developer in particular. This is what I love about it: I can put an app on the market, get some feedback via the comments (though there is no way to answer them, which is a shame as I regularly add features asked for by users so it would be nice to be able to let users know I’ve done it – see the Google Android petition), improve the app and publish it again. As a lone developer without the means to get beta testers, this is perfect.
A few of my observations:
- even months after release, I still get a steady volume of downloads for my apps.
- the rate of downloads is increasing, thanks to a larger user-base I am assuming.
- even though Google offers users the possibility to cancel their purchase within 24 hours, I have found that very few users use this. Currently, my cancellation rate is about 5%.
- developing is getting a bit more difficult as the diversity of Google Android hardware increases.
What about you? What is your Google Android experience, either as a user (quality of apps, number of apps, apps you’d like to see etc) or a developer?