Monday, November 23, 2009

2010: The Year Android Will Shake Its Money Maker

Mobile games publisher Gameloft might have thrown in the towel on Android, but that is a mistake. I certainly understand why they gave up on Android. Since launching in February of this year, our own Whitepages Caller ID app has become a top ten grossing Android application, and yet we’ve seen less than $54,000 in revenue. While our iPhone app download counts are in the millions, our Android app downloads are a mere 17 percent of this volume.

Despite our meager return on investment this year, I believe that the real potential for Android app developers lies in the New Year. Here’s why:

End-To-End Goodness

In addition to being an open platform that facilitates device innovation, Android offers choice and progress when it comes to the marketplace where consumers discover and download applications. While iTunes and The Official App Store are the only places consumers can download apps for their iPhone, Android’s open platform allows merchants like MobiHand and HanDango to set up storefronts, ultimately providing more purchasing options for consumers. Google’s focus on improving its the user experience in its own Android market will also continue to boost revenues for app developers. For example, when the recent 1.6 OS (Cupcake) upgrade provided a much needed facelift for the market, we saw an immediate 18 percent lift in sales for our paid Caller ID application.

Billing Options Get Greener

While Google still has a long way to go in terms of reaching as many consumers as iTunes does, with the power of “what’s hot” and capabilities like in-app purchases, they have begun to enlist an armada of players—including carriers with deep experience in integrated billing—to create better markets for the merchandising and sale of applications. In early November, T-Mobile announced that they will launch their own Android market with integrated carrier billing, giving consumers the ability to charge applications to their phone bill. Also on the Google market roadmap is the ability for publishers to offer subscription purchases.

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