The Android Market recently surpassed 100,000 apps according to recent news reports, and quarterly sales of Android-based smartphones have now equaled the iPhone. Even with the news that Android phone sales are up, it's still a challenge to sell Android apps for most developersmore so than selling iPhone apps on the App Store.
There are a number of reasons why this is probably the case. First, the Android Market started out with little fanfare and did not have much of a following. The App Store, on the other hand, had the benefit of being part of iTunes with a huge following. So app developers had a huge audience at their fingertips from the start.
Second, the Android Market shows only a portion of the available apps on its web site. Buyers must view the apps from their smartphones; for me, the browsing/shopping experience is less exciting.
And finally, some tablet versions for Android do not provide any access to the Android Market. From a structural standpoint, it is more difficult to sell your apps on the Android Market than at the App Store.
Google has recognized the need to improve the sales process and has recently made improvements to the Android Market to allow developers to better market their apps. The improvements are currently being rolled out and give developers new and enhanced features to assist in marketing their apps.
For example, the number of app screenshots on the store has been increased from two to eight. Game developers can also link to YouTube videos of their apps showing them in action. This will be a big help for developers to gain exposure for and sell their apps. The feature is provided by the OpenFeint social network.
And another new Android Market feature currently found in the App Store is the ability for developers to publish release notes that detail updates or changes with a new version of an app. While all these updates are great improvements for the Android Market, I'm not sure they address the visibility challenge that app developers still face when trying to market their apps. So, here are a few ideas that can help you gain a little more exposure for your app and hopefully improve your sales.
Take Advantage of Google's Open Sales Model
Unlike Apple, Google allows developers to market their apps from any site, not just the Android Market. So, this presents you with the opportunity to sell your app from the Android Market and other sites, including your own.
AppBrain and Androlib are just two examples of popular Android app sites that also can showcase your app. If you decide to market your app on your own web site, there are many ways of selling and allowing end users to download your app. One of the most popular payment systems is Paypal, which allows a user to pay for the app and then be forwarded to a site to download the actual application.
You can sign up for a service that will handle all the app fulfillment logistics for you. It's called the AndroidLicenser service, and for $39.95/month it will take your .apk file and Google Checkout details and handles the license enforcement.
Here are a few more points about how this service can help you:
- After signing up, you provide them with your Android application's .apk file and your Google Checkout and/or PayPal merchant credentials.
- They will set up a storefront where your users can pay for your application.
- Payment is accepted wherever Google Checkout and PayPal is available (more than 150 countries), and you'll get to keep 100 percent of the revenue.
- Whenever customers makes a payment on your store, they'll be given a private link where they can download and install your application onto their phonea.
- The proceeds from the sale are deposited directly into your Google Checkout and PayPal merchant account.