Home > Articles > Business & Management

Understanding Google Android In-App Purchases

  • Print
  • + Share This
In-app purchases allow you to sell digital content within your Android app. Jeffrey Hughes, author of Android Apps Marketing: Secrets to Selling Your Android App, explains pros and cons to this expanding business model in the mobile market.
Like this article? We recommend

Google recently began providing the capability for developers to add in-app purchase capability to their apps, functionality that the iPhone has had since 2009. Using In-App purchasing, an app can provide additional services or content that are paid for after the app has been downloaded and is being used. Games, for example, can provide additional weapons or combat gear for an additional cost. Another app might provide a first accounting lesson for free, but charge for the subsequent lessons in the series. In-App purchases is a powerful way to monetize your app and keep users coming back multiple times to make purchases.

What to Consider

If you are considering adding In-App purchase capability to your Android app, you'll want to understand some of the basics before jumping in.

Does Your App Have Enough Functionality?

First, In-App purchases are all the rage right now, but you'll want to consider if this approach is right for your app. Not every app is best suited to In-App purchases because you when you offer your app for free, you have to provide enough functionality to make the app usable and yet entice someone to buy more features with the full app. Games lend themselves well to this approach. However, other apps may not. A free app with hobbled functionality (where the user has to keep buying functionality for every little feature) will grow tired of this approach. He may wish to find another app that has one price but includes all the features he wants.

Remember the Billing Piece

In-app billing may only be applied to digital goods sold inside applications distributed through Android Market. The standard 30 percent fee applies to all in-app transactions. This means Google will not allow physical goods to be sold from within the app, only digital content. Subscriptions would fall into the category of digital content. Google will have the same challenges that Apple has in keeping transactions from occurring outside the app. What's to keep a developer on Android from sending the user to a mobile website to complete a transaction, thus avoiding the 30 percent charge? Apple can reject an app that is attempting to send users to another site to make a purchase, but Android does not have as comprehensive of a review process.

Decide on a Return Policy

Google's 15-minute return policy does not apply to in-app purchases. All refunds of in-app purchases are at the discretion of the developer. So you need to determine up front if you will offer refunds, for how long, and under what circumstances. Restoring in-app purchases is also the responsibility of the developer. Purchase history is tied to your Google account, so if you switch phones, your purchases can go with you to the new phone. As a developer, you'll need to anticipate this issue and provide a mechanism so that users can download previously paid in app purchases.

Clarify the Charges

Make sure that your in app purchase is clearly defined in your app. You'll want to have a clear description of what the purchase will provide the user, how much it will cost them, and so on. You also need to make the purchase process very clear so that there are no misunderstandings when someone makes a purchase about recurring charges or not. Because refunds are difficult to provide in Google, it's best to state your refund policy in your app.

Test the Pricing

Don't be afraid to test different pricing for your app. Sometimes your pricing may be a bit too high and you're not seeing the number of downloads you had expected. In most cases you'll need to modify the prices on your in app purchase page of your app and recompile. But, you can repost the app very quickly on the Android site without a lengthy review.

Free apps have about a 10X install rate as compared to paid apps. So, it makes sense to review the in app purchase option for your app and give away your basic app for free. With more downloads, you're more likely to get users that buy additional components of your app. The beauty of in-app purchases is that you can generate repeat revenue from the same customer. A paid app only sells once, but an app with in-app purchase options can sell new content over and over to the same person.

Final Thoughts

Take a look at your app and see if it's a good candidate for in-app purchases. If your app is a game, you can sell more ammo, planes, tanks, or other weapons. You can add additional levels of play and charge for those as well. If you are selling a non-game app, you'll need to determine whether you can provide enough free functionality in your app to be interesting and offer in-app purchases for must-have features that the customer can't get anywhere else.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020