Monday, 12 September 2011

The Android Culture - It's Own Worst Enemy

Let's face it, most iPhone apps range from good to brilliant. They are polished. They have high production value (having had significant funds pumped into production and top artists, musicians and a team of developers on the credits). They are new to any platform (kind of, ie Angry Birds and Smash the Tower, Plants Vs Zombies PC and Plants Vs Zombies for the iPhone).

SAN ANSELMO, CA - MARCH 18:  An image of the p...Another truth is that the best Android apps have already proved their worth on the iPhone market and reaped their rewards there first (with the possible exception of device specific apps that tweak/bend/backup your operating system in weird and wonderful ways). It's true! Try and find a high selling app on Android that hasn't been in the iPhone market for months.


It's quite simple. Apple offers a market where a developer has a hope of making more than pocket money from their hard work. An iPhone owner understands things like 'you get what you pay for' and 'you don't get something (good) for nothing' and what they therefore get is quality. Although I, a dedicated fighter for the Android's cause, thoroughly enjoy developing, I also like eating, heating my house and having a regular supply of electricity in my sockets.

Android's chance of a brilliant future is being dimmed by Google's inability to steer it's user culture away from freetardium (a new word I've just invented). Freetardium is the watering down of a brilliant idea to a point where it has no flavour, colour or consistancy. It's a world of free 'water effect over a [insert popular film/cartoon/person here] picture' wallpapers, sleazy flesh peddling apps and borderline copyright infringements. It's a world where your favourite game is ripping out all of your personal data without your knowledge and streaming it to some anonymous offshore server.

I am of the opinion that the main reason why some of the apps have been converted to the Android market at all is more to protect itself from cloned rip-offs rather than in an attempt to make any more money.

'But people do make money on Android!' I hear you cry. Yes, but not directly. The highest earners on the Android market make their money through in-app advertising. Even Roxio, makers of Angry-Birds, realised this and have gone down this route. So, to make a decent revenue, you have to sell a further slice of your soul to the advertising agencies.

I was chatting with my iPhone developer buddies and an interesting fact was raised. Each of them have tried different methods of monetizing their apps (that were deemed allowable by the mighty fruit). They agreed unanimously that the feature limited demo/full price unrestricted model worked best. But that wasn't the interesting fact, it was that the free app with in-app advertising was the least appealing and/or successful.

The fact that it's completely the opposite on Android again is obvious: Android users can't, don't or won't pay for apps. They would rather have invasive advertising obscuring their playing area than cough up less than a dollar. Which is dumb. By donating that dollar they are investing in their own future enjoyment. That dollar will keep developers interested in the platform. That dollar will help bring around the next upgrade/release/version of their favourite game. That dollar may contribute to the next ground-breaking game that would sweep the world. Not paying that dollar and subsequently downloading apps is not only self-centred but short-sighted and seriously not cool.

'What about the gazillion more apps and downloads that are made from the Android market than the iPhone market?' Yes, this is happening and is growing at a phenominal rate. However, as with all statistics, they don't paint the right picture. The iPhone app developers, being incentivised by income, are far more likely to develop their apps to perfection. Whereas their Android counterpart is more keen to release twenty variations in the hopes that one is popular. Another statistic, which as a developer I am more interested in, is average time an app spends on a device. Unfortunately we have (other than building some sort of heartbeat broadcasting code into your app) no way to work this out. Comparing the two markets against that metric would give a completely different picture, with Apple winning hands down. It's back down to Cost vs Quality vs Quantity.

If this is sounding like a whinge, it sincerely isn't. I am not asking you to buy my apps (but it'd be really nice if you did!), in fact this isn't about me at all. It's about you. It's about how you want the future of your favourite platform to go down. It's a plea to you to not let this fantastic opportunity of a brilliant platform turn dull.

Google - yes, you know who you are. Please get your act together. We are here to help each other, not for you to wipe your feet on.

If you do buy apps, little of the above applies to you and I salute you. You are feeding life into something that could be wonderful, a dream shared by all android users, and I can't thank you enough.

If you are an Android developer and disagree with any of this, please let me know. You guys rock and have my deepest respect. If you are an iPhone developer then you know what you've done wrong and should go and reflect on that.

Here's to a bright future!

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1 comment:

  1. Great post. I wade through the sea of crap apps that are offered for Android and would absolutely choose quality over quantity.

    I also think it's true that most users don't understand the struggle of some, especially smaller, developers for Android


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