back to article Porn and pirates hide Android's money maker

Android might be eating up smartphone market share, but Google's marketplace is leaving developers disgruntled. Nearly half aren't making the money they'd imagined they'd make off of Android, and the lack of decent search, filtering, and ratings have been blamed. Also: Google's laissez faire approach to gate keeping means the …


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  1. IT specialist
    Thumb Up

    It actually sounds very good for Android

    Quote from article:

    "27% are making more (money from Android than expected) and 24% per cent about what they'd expected."

    That means 51 %.... most Android developers... are making as much or more money than they expected to make. That sounds pretty good to me.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slag off Apple all you like...

    ...but guaranteed there was a meeting where the app store operating model was discussed, and this exact scenario was highlighted in the CON's column when discussing whether to remove the garden walls.

    Left-field Jobo app rejections aside, Apple app store still gives Devs more cash in their pocket, and consumers confidence in the relative safety of their purchased apps. For now. I'm sure Google will pull something out their hat(arse?) to get the best of both worlds soon though.

    I predict the following from the Apple store review:

    - apps too expensive for consumers

    - Apple's cut too large for devs

    - Apple still too restrictive on app types (eg there's no flash players)

    - Apple takes too long to review apps, and randomly rejects apps

    - crowded marketplace

    - still too many fart apps

    1. RegisterThis
      Paris Hilton

      I think it is just Apple doing what they do best ...

      ... user interfaces and marketing ... and that ultimately differentiates the App stores. The one looks like the shopping experience in Camden and the other like Oxford street (except Oxford street isn't quite what it used to be for shopping either just like the Apple App store)!

      Paris cos she would prefer the apps on Googles store ... and shopping in Camden!

    2. JiMinitaur
      Thumb Down

      The cash doesn't just roll in when the customers aren't idiots.

      The moaning developers are the ones who expect to make money simply because they produced an app. They underestimate the importance investment in self promotion. Their philosophy doesn't work on the PC, and the only reason it worked on the iPhone is because it became trendy.

      Android users are smarter than that. They quickly learn that the market is crap, and that most apps aren't worth the $3 charge to their credit card. Google needs to improve the market, but the average screen-size is significantly smaller than an iphone, so usability will always be an issue. Thus, developers who expect big returns need to realize how to reach their target audience outside of the market.

      Ultimately, the only effective way to locate apps now is through QR-code or SMS links delivered via aggregate websites. Compared to real websites, even the iPhone market sucks, so when more people start using their computers as a hub to enhance their phone, the shortcomings of a the built in market become negligible.

      That jump is not something Google can do alone, the developers need to get the ball rolling through their own grass-roots effort. Honestly, most Android users are tech savy anyway, so it shouldn't be that hard.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        There is not any such thing as a computer android market place? Unless you simply mean using a standard website or SMS links to encourage users to get your app online? ( I gather that is what you are getting at)

        The problem is also that tech savvy people are more likely to go for the free option, or will simply copy anything they really want from a friend.

        The reason it worked on the iphone is not down to the app store per se, but that it was convenient and word of mouth marketing. Plus it was not possible to copy good apps for free. If your friend finds out about a great app, in the walled market you had to follow the word of mouth and buy. With android it is much easier to go and copy that cool app for free.

        You may think this is great, but developers won't. Google are pushing developers to a race to the bottom, where all apps are free and you make money from google ads. Good for users, good for google, but good for the developers? Google hope that with a huge handset population they can convince developers that the give away/get your money from ads is a good model. I am not sure whether this will work or not, maybe it will, maybe it won't. It is new territory and a new model from google.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    One wonders if:

    - the devs making more money than expect are the porn app writers

    - the ones complaining just have crap apps

    - the ones with genuine apps, written well are making the money expected

    Hey, it's late, and this damned servers still not working. Gimme a break.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Obvious solution?

      That's what i was thinking.

      If no-one wants to buy your app, isn't the obvious solution to make it better?

    2. Anonymous Coward


      It could be the ones writing good apps are:

      a) having them copied illegally onto other Android devices

      b) having their ideas ripped off by others.

      Awaits the fandroid flaming of a developer....

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Curation Schmuration

        As a user I really don't see the "added value" of Apple's allegedly superior approach. The best apps are still the things I hear about through "word of mouth" or otherwise through 3rd party sources. If I see a bunch of things in the appstore, I am still pretty much forced to try every single one of them out to sort out what's decent or useful for me. The ratings and approval nonsense doesn't do squat to help me find what's usable or likable.

        Although I have seen iThing apps mysteriously disappear, be discontinue d from the store due to lack of ongoing developer payments or just had issues with iTunes s*itting itself and needing to be reinstalled from scratch (the 9.x versions of iTunes).

        Less need to be dependent on questionable appstore payware of course is going to probably be percieved as a net loss to developers.

  4. Mikel

    You know what they say about consultants?

    Consultants don't know how to run a business. They know how to get other people to pay them to tell them how to run their business.

    They're like marketing companies. Marketing companies sell their ability to do marketing. It's what they do. That in return they have to produce ads that may be seen by customers is an advantage they have over consultants, but it's the only one.

  5. Uncle Emphie

    Porn is hidden by inferior apps!

    Are you out of your mind? "the quality stuff's hidden by porn?" Really?

    One man's inferior app is another's spank-a-thon my friend.

  6. censored

    why isnt the headline figure

    That 51% are making the same or more than they expected?

    I stopped reading when I realised that you'd chosen the figure for a negative story but which doesn't reflect the truth.

  7. Drefsab


    I wonder how much impact a better search / rating interface would have, for example there's many app's on the android market that I've thought about buying but then with a little digging if found a 100% app that does the same thing (the gmail unread notification widget for example).

    I have bought some app's of course one that I really liked, the snes megadrive psx emulators for example. But trawling through the market is a pain id love the ability to hide apps I dont want to know about, or even category's of apps (for example when browsing games id love to hide all those useless soundboards and apps that just to a slide so of pictures).

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "a high number of Android developers also building for the iPhone or iPad."

    I develop for the iPhone. I do not particularly like the Apple eco-system although i have to own various apple products. They are alright, they do the job. I am developing for my own benefit not Apple's, and i am also developing for Android too. Again for my own benefit, not Google's.

    Any developer who has been doing it for more than about 10 seconds should have realised we are just a commodity to most people / companies, so its up to you to make it work!!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    no pleasing some people

    if they aren't bemoaning apples walled garden and arbitrary policies on what can and cannot be in an app they are complaining google's store is shit. Google's store could be improved. Minimum pricing shouldn't be introduced, it's an open market, though piracy should be addressed sensibly

  10. Daf L

    Build it and they will come...

    I think a lot of developers on the Android Market (and other markets) expect to just be able to write a piece of software and put it on the market then sit back as everyone uses their software and the money rolls in.

    However, life doesn't work that way. If your app is fantastic, magical and revolutionary(!) then that might happen. All the app review sites and the major Android sites will pick up on it, people will talk about it, it will make the "10 must have Android Apps for your new phone" lists and you will sit pretty.

    For all those other apps that are good, useful but not 'amazing' you need to market it (not spam it!). You can't expect Google to do it for you. There are many ways you can promote it for free or very cheaply. You also have to realise that just because you hate "calorie counters" and can't see why they are getting more coverage than your "battery monitor" app doesn't mean everyone thinks your app is better.

    The best apps are shown with prominence in the market. These are the ones with the highest ratings and most downloads. Appbrain (which most people are or should be using) shows apps that are the hottest of the day or week - ones that have a buzz about them.

    Every product in the world needs to be either brilliant (and therefore benefit from editorials or word of mouth) or be well marketed to sell. Apps are no different, on iTunes or the Android Marketplace.

  11. Malcolm 1

    App Stores

    Are app stores ever going to be good enough to find new applications? I tend to find sites like AppBrain far more useful in finding and filtering apps.

    The Android market is good enough once you've actually downloaded something as it delivers updates in a fairly painless fashion.

  12. John Miles

    A new Users view of Market Place

    Searching is great - but to search I already know what I want (e.g. London Underground Planner). But to just browse for something, as you might want to with games or on train, there is not enough structure/categories or any filtering (ability to limit to things like English language, exclude things that are USA only etc.) - look under reference and anything from dictionaries to religious quotes comes up

    Finally some effort to lot spam bots on reviews would be nice

  13. Martin Lyne

    I predicted ONE BILLION DOLLARS!

    Could this not just be bad forecasting (it is a recession after all) or piss poor products?

    I'll admit, the market place could use some sprucing up, tags would help for a start, otherwise you have to scroll through umpteen billion pages. (But, it does dynamically load them into one page, so its contiguous)

    After using Windows Marketplace.. well, Android is a fucking fairyland. The same 5 apps are still in the WinMo top ten, and it's all shit.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    "Developers say

    Android phone customers are paying less than iPhone customers purchasing from Apple's App Store"

    Wow, so something seen as a premium product, bought by people with no idea anything else exists who live in a closed system and who are used to buying things at waaay above their market value if it didn't have a shiny logo on it commands higher prices than something seen as a "competitor" for said ridiculous device?

    Yeah, couldn't have seen that happening.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    The problem is

    The quality of free alternatives on Android. Why pay for apps, when there are perfectly good opensource and free alternatives?

    Also iPod owners are stupid and pay for any old crap.

  16. Dog11

    Only 49% "earning less than they'd expected"?

    Seems like a pretty good number to me. I'd expect most apps (as with most new products in general) are written by people who wildly overestimate how breathlessly the world is waiting for their product. If half are making as much or more than they'd expected, that likely shows the public will buy just about anything.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Quelle suprise

    Although piracy rates for games are reportedly 55% on Apple's App Store they are well below the 98% rates I've seen bandied about for games on the Andriod store -- which is one reason why my business hasn't even bothered with Android Apps and we're sticking to iOS.

    Oh the freetards will moan about the lack of software, but they're going to pirate the crap out of a platform what else do they expect? (See PSP).

    Google really need to do something about the piracy issue, but will they?

  18. Disco-Legend-Zeke


    ...journalism. Why start over every time you write a story.

    Entire phrases can be stored and re-used with very little modification, for example:

    "'s impossible to communicate with somebody at Google about [insert issue here.]"

  19. Paul S. Gazo
    Paris Hilton

    Minimum pricing because customers are paying more on another platform?

    Please bite me. It's a free market and it's about time the various overpriced fart apps were discounted. Most mobile apps are widgets at best and should be priced to reflect that. Artificial price control to inflate income is just wrong.

    Paris because she gives it away for free.

    1. Renato

      Re: Minimum pricing because customers are paying more on another platform?

      Is it overpriced? Don't buy it then.

      Is it a half-cooked widget that just farts? Don't buy it then.

      It is that simple.

  20. Relwal
    Big Brother

    Google should say no to Android Market curation!

    Google promotion of apps on the Android Market would be a two edged sword. With hundreds of thousands of apps it becomes a lottery. Developers on the Apple App Store have discovered that the only apps that do well are those that are magically selected to be featured by Apple on the App Store. Apple calls this kingmaker function "curation." (Track every App Store success story and you will find they ALL ultimately lead back to the app being featured by Apple.)

    Now some developers might prefer a lottery to the mosh pit that is the current Android Market. But the problem is that curation model is derived from the hit-oriented music business, and as such app distribution is characterized by a very strong power curve, with the vast majority of downloads going to a small number of "hits" and the vast majority of apps not getting enough downloads to make and money let alone cover their fixed expenses. In other words there is no "long tail" on Apple's App Store.

    Apple and iPhone users have benefited from the constant string of distractions that the Apple App Store model pumps out, but ultimately it is counterproductive for development of deeper and richer apps.

    Hopefully Google with all their experience and insight into search has better ideas for what is essentially a SEO problem.

  21. Spanners Silver badge

    I'm not sure

    Why stuff costing less for Android is in the least surprising.

    The overheads are lower. There is a complete free development kit and you don't have Apple dissalowing stuff because it doesn't fit with their aesthetics or something.

    It is quite reasonable for stuff to cost the same. That would be to keep the bookkeepers sums simple.

    If I was ever charged more for Android stuff, I would't touch it.

    My top reason for wanting an Android phone was that it meant it wasn't an iPhone. Cost is quite important too. I don't have to pay the "shiny shiny" tax and wiuth more competition and a more user oriented market place I feel happy.

  22. SilverWave

    Just bought an Android App - took 5 seconds worked fine.

    Almost too easy tbh.

    I _NEVER_ buy apps :-(

    ...Well that's obviously no longer true, but in my defence I blame the seductive coolness of my HTC Desire and a fantastically addictive Robo Defense.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Build a good app and people will buy it.

    I've already bought a couple for my Nexus One, and they have proven incredibly useful, fun, and a joy to use. One is a time-tracker for professional time billing has paid for itself many times over. Another, a WiFi analyser has also come in handy numerous times. Oh, did Imention I've only owned the phone for a few days?

    So yes, good apps will be purchased and those authors will make money.

    To digress from the app development side of things for a moment there seems to be quite a few mud-slinging articles (on which there are no comments allowed) contains the following paragraph;

    "My confidence in Apple rests on its comparative advantage in the user experience (UX) - it's still streets ahead of the rivals in ease of use. If you don't believe me, try a test with someone who has a new, rival touchscreen phone; invite them to change the wallpaper or the ringtone."

    OK, I'll take that test. Out with my new Nexus One, touch the top button to turn it on, slide the unlock, touch and hold a blank spot on the existing wallpaper, up comes a menu, select "Wallpapers", select "Live Wallpapers", and then select the one I like. Boy, was that ever difficult... NOT.

    OK, perhaps changing the rtingtone is difficult. Select Applications, select Settings, select Sound, select Ringtone, then select the sound you want to use. Nope, that too was a simple process too.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tad unfair

    im no Android lover, ive used it on my HD2 for a while now and its ok, not better then WM, not worse, i think the android market is pretty good, its not quite as easy to navigate as microsofts but there is now choice and here lies the issue. There is a mass of crap apps on there and they are dirt cheap, publishers / software houses should concentrate on making good software, word of mouth is by far the best kind of advertising, so their argument of not making as much money is down to them, yes google could get involved and do what Apple does but then we'd all be complaining about censorship or favortism.

    People, get over it, stop making so much crap then people wont be blinded by so much fud.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    This article needs to be removed, it is telling the truth far too much. We all know Android is the ducks nuts and anyone who says so needs to be given a kicking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      it's like when you get downvoted for daring to suggest that the Android model is flawed. Forget logic, reason, evidence etc etc. You critised, so you will be downvoted.

      Or worse - saying Apple is better. Woe betide you there.

      The droidboi's are as bad as the fanbois, frankly.

  26. Iain 15
    Jobs Horns


    "And, oh, one more thing: pricing - Google needs to set minimum pricing, as developers say Android phone customers are paying less than iPhone customers purchasing from Apple's App Store."

    The obvious: Could this not be that Apple overprices things?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Unless it's me?

      I don't think Apple tell developers what price to set? Unless I am much mistaken you can as a developer make your app free? But let's not let facts get in the way of logical discussion eh?

  27. mmm mmm

    Who cares

    What Apple apps cost, the world's in recession, I'm glad to see that these people have realised it now, they should be glad they're being paid anything at all.

  28. Far Canals

    Some key words here


    OK so it was only one key word.

    Just because someone is not making as much as they expected to, that doesn't necessarily mean that teh problem is with the Android (or Ovi) market - it may well be that the developers were overoptimistic in their expectations of returns. Would be good to see some proper research in that area, as this ('how realistic are my forecasts/expectations) could be of much more use to developers than the 'how happy are you' survey that seems to have been done.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      That's fine and dandy, but lower expectations means that people will move away from the magical Android marketplace to pastures new. Why spend time developing for a market where you don't think you can make money, when there are other options?

      Less developers means less apps, lower expectations means less developers, then Android can live on googles apps and some free apps provided by backroom developers, rather than the professional developers it really requires.

  29. E_Nigma
    Paris Hilton

    How About You Develop Better Apps?

    "The consultant found 49 per cent of publishers earning less than they'd expected from the Android Market. Twenty seven per cent are making more and 24 per cent about what they'd expected."

    In other words, 49% of publishers are unhappy with what their apps are making them, while 51% are. Sounds about right to me. If I see two apps that do what I want, that's probably one publisher happy with what I'll give him and one unhappy.

  30. Confused Vorlon

    How can Google be so bad?

    1) The desktop version of the app store doesn't have search!

    you used to be able to page through all the apps, but I guess they removed that as it was embarrasing. Perhaps Bing can do an search feature for them?

    2) Weak store availability

    3) They expect the developer to get involved in the transactions as a merchant

    -seriously, why do you send me an email that some user's credit card has failed

    -why do 10-15% of purchases fail?

    4) No way to make an app link which both links to the app in the store on a device AND does something useful if you click on it from a desktop browser

    (I built a workaround system for this: )

    on the plus side, they do let you publish apps without having to wait a week for approval (or rejection)

  31. Danny 14


    there are plenty enough "free" ones so people dont need to buy. I havent payed for anything on my android - freeware has been adequate for what I want.

  32. SilverWave

    Downloaded and installed a Tower Game in 5 secs.

    Painless and under $3.

    I usually have a quick look in the market but keep an eye on the reviews for Best 10 Andriod apps etc.,

    My HTC Desire has been my best tech buy of the last 5 years... more than makes up for my Sony Clie Palm disappointment of a few years ago.

  33. John H Woods Silver badge

    Erm, excuse me ...

    ... half say they aren't making as much money as they expected, and half say they are, with half of those making more than they expected? A few more datapoints with a better quantification of 'less' and 'more' and we'd probably have a bloody normal distribution.

    The figures appear to show, contrary to what is claimed, that the Android market is almost exactly as profitable - however much that is - as most developers expected it to be.

    In other news, nearly half of the entries in our local village fair underestimated the weight of the cow, showing that people have difficulties understanding just how big a cow is.

    I'm going to stop typing now and go to bed before I give into the CAPS LOCK KEY ...

  34. OffBeatMammal

    it's a frustrating experience

    the search is annoying because you have no way of ordering by starts, number of downloads etc to at least filter some of the crap out... scrolling through 2 pages of 1-2 star rated apps to find the 5 star one you're looking for is insanely bad.

    then you have the annoyance of no real way to try-before-you-buy for some of the paid apps... so far my experience has been that the ad supported efforts tend to be better simply because uninstalling them means the dev stops getting paid!

    I'd also love an option to filter by "official" apps... eg find the real Google apps, or the real Netflix one or the real Skype (oh no, they've sold their soul to a carrier so that's dead)

    1. JBH

      Android DOES allow try before you buy.

      As long as you uninstall an app within 24 hours, you are not charged. Of course, if you re-install the app at a later date you will be charged straight away - to stop people taking the piss I guess.

      A couple of times I've had to do this when I've bought an app and found it doesn't work as advertised. But there are many more apps I've purchased and been more than happy with.

      Write a decent app that works well, price it realistically and people will buy it. On the other hand, all those devs expecting to become millionaires out of soundboard and rom-downloading apps can go straight to hell.

  35. vincent himpe

    Android phone customers are paying less than iPhone customers purchasing from Apple's App Store"

    ah. But it's free software. Free as in open , copy it and cheap or -gratis- no ? Only the sun comes up for free.

  36. PReDiToR

    Isn't the answer ...

    Stop developing for Android if you don't like it?

    Whiny gits.

  37. Anonymous Coward


    I understand how people see this, the Android marketplace is great because

    a) I can get free apps the same quality as paid ones. The problem with this is that the more this happens the fewer android developers will come through.

    b) As soon as an app appears that is good, another similar one is released at lower cost/free. This happens due to the copyright issues already exposed. Again many good developers could leave the community as innovation/ideas are at the mercy of developers willing to outright copy them, and sell much cheaper. Great for users, not great for developers.

    c) Lack of control from google. Means I can use my device how I want, where I want, and how I want. The downside for developers is that their newly developed app can be pirated left, right and centre. So the solution apparently from those here and google is to ensure that you keep adding new features/updates so that pirates can't keep up. Let's be honest even if you release a monthly update, the pirates are going to be ahead of you on the curve all the way. Android devs are either going to have to make their apps free and use google ads to make money (which coincidentally is what google really want!!!!), or they put up with losing say 50% of potential income to pirates?

    Can anyone see a conflict of googles interest here?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Paying less?

    "Android phone customers are paying less than iPhone customers"

    Absolute nonsense. Many apps and games available on both platforms are far cheaper on the Apple App Store. Rarely see the kind of sales App Store users enjoy either.

    You want to sell more and make more money? Drop the price. Cheap apps sell.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Or why not

      Simply copy the app from a friend? The ultimate in cheap is free! A good way to support the developers too!

  39. Hayden Clark

    But no profit from HTC hero owners....

    ... for whom the Google Marketplace doesn't work anyway. Well, not unless you're prepared to factory restore the phone every week or two

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sweeping statement?

      I have a Hero, so does my other half and I know at least 3 other people. All of whom the Android Market works fine and always has done.

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      It works on mine

      Ok, I have only got "free" apps off marketplece, but I have downloaded quite a few on my Hero.

      The only problem I've had was, after I was upgraded to 2.2(?) Google Listen stopped working. I uninstalled it and picked it up from the Marketplace again and have a brilliant podcast aggregator again.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    It's Googles business model and you will play if you want to

    Google's business model is not to sell its applications, Google's model is to give everything away but shove ads inside their apps. Therefore this would be Google's preferred market model for Android marketplace.

    As a developer they would like you to give your app away free and generate income through their ads system. Is it any wonder they are not keen on putting in place restrictions on copying of apps or copyrighting?

    By going down this route they are forcing developers into their model of sustaining apps through adverts. Which somewhat suspiciously is there own business? This way google take two slices of the pie (from advertisers and developers), rather than a single pipeline..

    "Do no Evil"

    Down vote away freetards

  41. Mayhem

    Biggest problem is it is only accessible from android phones

    I've recently been trying to get some apps installed on our work Android phones, the problem I have is they are with Orange for data, and the data network in our part of the City has gone to the dogs lately. Worst thing is you can't even search the android marketplace without using your phone to do it.

    I mean, I have the usb tether cable. I have a broadband connection. Why can't I just purchase and download an app then install it manually if I choose?

    We don't have wifi in the office for security reasons, so as it turned out our only option ended up being sending the PFY down to the local coffee shop for a half hour to use the wifi there with a sheet of instructions on what to get.

  42. Roland6 Silver badge

    Where's the Mac/Win/Linux AppStore

    I find it interesting to observe that for smartphones (eg. iPhones and Android) we expect there to be an app store, whereas for desktops and games we're happy to do the research and buy from any store.


      The Debian AppStore.

      > Where's the Mac/Win/Linux AppStore

      "apt-get install Osmos"

      Infact, if you pay attention to Cydia when it's doing it's thing you'll notice that it's just running Debian's packager. The whole "app store" thing is just a dressed up version of Debian.

      I interact with my iphone and my Ubuntu box in a very similar manner when it comes to "apps": I hear from some guy or website about a cool app and to go look for it in the package manger. Searching either package repository directly is less useful. Both just have too much to sort through really. Apple's is mainly dressed up better. Plus it includes proprietary 3rd party payware.

  43. rpjs

    I guess we really will see which is best now...

    ...the Cathedral or the Bazaar

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