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Some Claim Android App Store Worse Than iPhone's 289

Posted by kdawson
from the scylla-meet-charybdis dept.
eldavojohn writes "If you think the iPhone app store is the only mobile game store suffering an exodus, some game publishers claim Android's app store isn't much better, for a different reason — it doesn't generate much revenue. In fact, French game developer Gameloft (which owes 13% of its profits to iPhone game sales), said, 'We have significantly cut our investment in Android platform, just like... many others. It is not as neatly done as on the iPhone. Google has not been very good to entice customers to actually buy products. On Android nobody is making significant revenue. We are selling 400 times more games on iPhone than on Android.' So the trade-off seems to be more sales but an annoying approval process, versus a lack of sales promotions and no annoyance around approval. It seems that those in it for money will opt for iPhone, and those in it for distribution will opt for Android. Or maybe someone will get it right one of these days?"
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Some Claim Android App Store Worse Than iPhone's

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  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:33PM (#30176616) Homepage

    It seems that those in it for money and distribution will opt for iPhone, and those in it for neither will opt for Android.

    FTFY. But seriously, did these developers make ANY effort to size the market on each platform before making their decision?

    I can totally understand why some developers have problems the iphone approval requirements. But its positively daft to make a business decision on only that basis and then be surprised later to discover that your prospective customers simply do not care. Surprise! They prefer a unified, tightly controlled, non-sucky smartphone experience even at the expense of some interesting apps.

    Personally I'd go a step further. I would give up EVERY SINGLE THIRD PARTY APP not to have to go back to the Treo that my iPhone replaced. Maybe Android has come a long way since then but for the first time I am actually happy with my phone and not motivated enough to find out.

  • Perhaps .. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:35PM (#30176630)

    .. at the moment the difference in sales is due to market segmentation based on who is buying each type of phone?

    If you are a trendy game player you are buying the iPhone and games for it, but if you are an Android user you care less for games and more about being "free" ??

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:35PM (#30176640)
    But I still say eat which ever you personally like.
  • Re:Perhaps .. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:36PM (#30176664)
    Or you care more about functionality and apps that actually do something, not games. Locale, which takes action based on your location, is free. Weather apps are mostly free. The only apps I've looked at I might consider paying for? And RDP app and an app that lets me use the camera as a scanner to make PDFs. You don't need to buy apps when there are tons of solid apps that are free.
  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:38PM (#30176692)
    Sure, if porting over was free... But the reality is that porting an iPhone app to Android requires moving all your iPhone C code to Java, targeting non multitouch devices, targeting devices with different screen sizes and resolutions, and another round of testing... You'd have to hire a second engineering team. What Gameloft seems to be saying is they can hire a dozen engineers to make X number of dollars on Android, or they can take those same engineers and make 400 times X on the iPhone. Economically, it makes no sense for them to keep engineers on Android when those same engineers could be put to work to make 400 times as much money on the iPhone.
  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:39PM (#30176698)
    I would think the vastly greater sales would be related to the larger number of iPhones on the street, and the length of time the app store has been around, but that's just me. I would also guess that Apple users would buy more games than Android users, just based on my generalized, uninformed perceptions of the user base.
  • by system1111 (1527561) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:41PM (#30176732)
    With the Droid out and the recent marketing push in terms of Verizon dollars behind it I think this might look a little different down the road a bit.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:41PM (#30176738) Journal
    Right now the install base of iPhone is much bigger than Droid's. So the initial sales will be slower. But it will pick up eventually if the platform is a hit. When they come back they might find that their niche has been already filled by their competitor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:48PM (#30176904)

    The main issue behind this would be that only a few countries world wide actually have access to the paid app section of the Android Market.

    For example, we in the great white north can only get free apps. And there are ones - games even - I'd buy if i could

  • Re:Market share (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#30176930)

    There are a lot fewer Android phones than iPhones, plus there is one thing people forget:

    If you distribute code for Apple's platform, you have to go through the App Store. If you want to distribute code for Windows Mobile and Android, you can just send the user a file. The Android and WM app stores are more of clearinghouses (similar to Handango), as opposed to a central choke point.

    So, factoring out pirated apps, Apple's Store shows essentially all the apps that go from developers to customers. Other platforms, the app stores might be used for commercial distribution, but other apps don't need to be. So, even if Android had the same marketshare as Apple's ther app store would always show fewer apps because people are free to use other ways to get from them to their users.

  • by DrHappyAngry (1373205) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#30176938)
    Maybe if I actually saw an app worth paying for, in the android market, I'd buy it. Most apps are pretty dumb. How many fart, soundboard, and girly apps are there? There's a handful that I probably should make a donation to, like connectbot, gmote, andftp, and cyanogen, but other than I've not seen much that even looks worth $1. A huge amount of us jumped to android since it's a relatively open platform. Those of us that are used to open platforms are not used to paying for much. They do specifically mention gaming, though, and my G1 has a terrible interface for trying to play games on. Great for what I use it for, but not so good for games. The hardware on most is kind of slow compared to the iphone, as well.
  • Show me the apps! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by idrumgood (1672260) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:53PM (#30177020)
    One of my biggest beefs with the Android Market is that I can't browse the apps without an Android phone. I can see a very limited selection on the Market website, but to see all my options, I need an Android device (which I don't have). iPhone has iTunes and you can see every single option. Let me see what my options are and I'll be more likely to switch.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:55PM (#30177046)
    Lets see here, who (willingly) uses Windows Mobile? You have some Windows fanbois, businessmen who need some strange proprietary syncing with some obscure Windows application, people who want a cheap smartphone (yeah, now Android is becoming pretty cheap, but there still isn't any AT&T Android phone, and a year ago there really weren't many good Android handsets), and people who don't want to upgrade their phones. None of them are in the market for applications. The people who will pay money for the applications are teenagers who want "the latest thing", geeks who want to use their phone in different ways, etc. Most people who have Windows Mobile won't be huge customers of applications, especially now when Android, iPhone OS and even BlackBerry are advancing faster than stagnant, unstable Windows Mobile.
  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu ... org minus distro> on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:01PM (#30177138) Homepage

    Could it just be that Apple is extorting the masses for something that is of little or no true value?

    What is "true value"? I don't think such a thing exists---the closest thing is, essentially, a very popular value.

    We all value human life (our own the most, then our relatives, then our friends, acquaintances, compatriots etc., then any human being). Does that make it a true value? Lions don't value human life, and we're probably nutritious to them. The universe doesn't have a mind (AFAIK), so it doesn't think anything about "us pathetic humans" ;-) Hostile aliens coming to our world wouldn't value human life. Who are we to say they are wrong? We're free to disagree, but that doesn't by itself make them wrong.

    Maybe $2 for a funny little game that lasts for half an hour isn't something that many people value greatly, but some people value it at more than $2 (or they wouldn't buy it, according to economic theory and a rationality assumption). Who are you to say they're wrong?

    (I probably share your views on the worth of most phone applications. I don't recall purchasing any myself. But if they make other silly people happy...)

  • by eln (21727) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:17PM (#30177454) Homepage
    Exactly. A mobile phone, even a smart phone, is far more of an appliance (or a game console) than a standard computer is, and you will lose if you try to treat it like a computer. Apple understands this and offers a uniform experience with a tightly controlled OS and tightly controlled applications available through a simple and easy to use app store interface. Developers only have to develop for one set of hardware requirements, and can fully take advantage of that piece of hardware.

    Android, on the other hand, is an open platform designed to work on a wide variety of devices. This means that developers have to design their apps for the lowest common denominator of all these devices, or create different versions for each device depending on its capabilities. This means they can't effectively take advantage of advanced features or greater available resources in the high end phones, because they'll lose out on all of the potential customers with the lower end models. This is much more akin to developing for PCs rather than consoles.

    If people saw their phones as personal computers, Android's model would be more successful. However, it doesn't seem to fit in with how most people use their phones. It will find purchase among the small segment of the market that enjoys endlessly tinkering with their gadgets, or philosophically oppose closed designs enough to forgo the iPhone, but the majority of the population will continue to flock to the iPhone.
  • by Delwin (599872) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:28PM (#30177638)
    Sounds like the PC market...
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:40PM (#30177832) Homepage Journal

    If you are a trendy game player you are buying the iPhone and games for it, but if you are an Android user you care less for games and more about being "free" ??

    Another thing to consider: iPhone is to Android phone as iPod Touch is to what?

  • Re:Market share (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:52PM (#30178054)

    Then you my friend do not understand anything about IT.
    Linux can not rise that fast because
    1 - Microsoft and Windows and (Government support for it) existed for way too long
    2 - It is not backed by a single company/person/entity. It is all about the community

    Android on the other hand is open source, but backed by Google (Goooogle) and only three years behind the iPhone. The recent market share surveys show
    Android already gained 4% going up to 7% (And as most people would think, iPhone is not the market share leader, it is Symbian OS by Nokia).
    At some point there will be so many android phones (eventho people do not care what it is), it is going to have a significant market share.
    And even if you don't understand Android OS has some advantages over iPhone OS, which might be important to some people like me (not just using the phone
    for gaming).

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:10PM (#30178376)

    Android, on the other hand, is an open platform designed to work on a wide variety of devices. This means that developers have to design their apps for the lowest common denominator of all these devices, or create different versions for each device depending on its capabilities. This means they can't effectively take advantage of advanced features or greater available resources in the high end phones, because they'll lose out on all of the potential customers with the lower end models. This is much more akin to developing for PCs rather than consoles.

    Wow. I don't know where to begin with that because most of it is not true.

    Android is an open platform and can work on a variety of devices, but the framework (known as Android) which sits between the device and the application is abstracted. This means if you use the provided SDK, you don't care what the nature of the device is. Its not a problem, its a big, big plus. It is, however, a serious problem for Apple and their iPhone/iPod. Interestingly, what you deem to be a negative for Android is factually a huge positive and likewise, a huge negative for Apple. That's the entire point of using Java/Dalvik for the platform.

    The sole exception to the above is OpenGL ES development, but Apple devs are in exactly the same boat here. Besides, ultimately it doesn't matter at all. Between OpenGL and framework interfaces, its generally not a constraint or problem in the least - unless you want it to be. That is, unless you want to work around (as in not use) the facilities natively provided by the platform.

    The only other corner case is the layout management, but that's not really an issue either. Layouts generally translate fine, without issue, and without requiring any additional effort on the part of developers. Generally speaking, this is actually more powerful because if you want to take advantage of larger displays (example, fit more stuff on screen) , you're free to do so with a specialized layout - otherwise, it works proportionately in size - without any effort from the developer.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:14PM (#30178430) Journal

    Nokia n800?
    Archos PMP?
    How about an Android netbook, an Android tablet device, the other 87 Android phones currently in development or already released?

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:35PM (#30178756)
    Considering the tact Apple has shown becoming the most important player in mobiles in 2 years I would be willing to take the bet that they will be fine even without Verizon. Android will thrive, but the iPhone is gonna be just fine.
  • by bobcat7677 (561727) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:11PM (#30179220) Homepage
    Yes, well said. Based on the sketchy news reports I have seen, there are at least 30 million Iphones out there now while there are only about 1 million android devices so far. I think that gap will start to narrow with the introduction of the Droid phone and Verizon's accompanying ad campaigns. But dev for android should be considered investment in the future at this point, not a source of instant riches.
  • by toriver (11308) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:26PM (#30179440)

    Which Nokia is that? Symbian 40? Symbian 60? Symbian 90? Maemo? Java Micro Edition? Which profile? Ovi? Which channel will you use to distribute it? The average download site which lets you keep 20% after they and the carrier have taken their cuts? The Ovi store which is the only channel for the latter (with a beta SDK)?

    iPhone or Android development it is, then.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:28PM (#30179484) Journal

    Truth is, neither platform has enough revenue potential to make much sense for developers. If your $2 game is very successful, and sells 10,000, you've made 1/3 of a good senior software engineer's yearly salary. You'd have to make 3 of those a year! I prefer the model where the app is free. Generally, the free app leader has 10X the user base of the paid app leader. Make money on being a community leader, but give the software away for free (as in beer). What counts in this case is the user base. iPhone has the lead for now, but at the moment, I think Android has a higher growth rate.

    I think long-term Google will be proven right: a universal operating system running on phones from all but a couple of the major cell phone manufacturers will create a far larger user base than proprietary offerings from any single vendor. It's Windows vs Mac all over again.

  • by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:30PM (#30179508) Homepage

    The thing is, most people with a Nokia phone never install a 3rd-party app.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:37PM (#30179590)

    This guy [paulgraham.com] says it best : "So programmers continue to develop iPhone apps, even though Apple continues to maltreat them. [...] Can anything break this cycle? No device I've seen so far could. Palm and RIM haven't a hope. The only credible contender is Android. But Android is an orphan; Google doesn't really care about it, not the way Apple cares about the iPhone. Apple cares about the iPhone the way Google cares about search."

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:22PM (#30180108) Homepage

    The Android app store sells less because it is dominated by a culture of "free" (as in beer) and the Apple app store is not. I run Android and wish it would do well, but if I were designing games, I would not target the Android if my model was to make money by selling games. If I were Zynga, Playfish, or Playdom, however, using the "Freemium" model, I'd be all over the Android. Look at Ian Bogost's article describing the ridiculousness of people asking for refunds for 99 cent games [gamasutra.com] as an indication of how hard it is to make money selling games on mobile platforms.

    (Gamers, look at the future of gaming: it is Farmville, and you created it through your cheapness, greed, and immaturity.)

  • by kikito (971480) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:59PM (#30180996) Homepage

    Let me get this straight.

    His personal experience is anecdotal.

    Your personal experience is FACTS.

    Fascinating.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 21, 2009 @02:27AM (#30182398)

    Actually it does prove that not "everyone" is doing it.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @04:02AM (#30182718)

    Exactly. A mobile phone, even a smart phone, is far more of an appliance (or a game console) than a standard computer is

    This is exactly what Android is trying to change.

    You may not be old enough to remember but I am. About 20 years ago the PC market was the same as the mobile market is today, Hardware, Software and service were tightly integrated and came from a single provider (this is called Vertical Integration), then along came this upstart company founded by a Harvard drop-out called Microsoft who had developed this product called Windows 3.1 and then had the audacity to sell the software separate from the hardware, the software also ran on generic hardware so multiple vendors could produce hardware and the OS provided a consistent framework for applications. Win 3.1 opened up the hardware market, killed the vertical integrators and created competition. Even Linux owe's its success to the market created by Win 3.1. Apple may have made the first popular PC but it was Windows 3.1 that put the PC on every desk in the world.

    I'm sure the Apple II fanboys said the same thing about Win 3.1 as the iphone fanboys are saying about Android, that different hardware would make the platform too inconsistent. It didn't turn out that way with Win 3.1. An OS can sit on a variety of hardware and maintain consistency, Linux and Windows are living proof of this. Android is attempting to separate the vertical integration monopolies of the mobile phone market and frankly, its about damn time as this needs to happen to the mobile phone/service industries.

    We are already seeing the phone HW market start to open up as non-phone technology companies like Acer, Asus and Nvidia are producing mobile phones running Android, not to mention non phone products like the Barnes and Noble "Nook" ebook reader.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @04:14AM (#30182758)

    Granted, what I'm saying is also anecdotal

    This is cancelled out by this.

    That's called anecdotal. It doesn't prove anything

    You seem to throw around the word FACT a lot but you don't actually provide a single fact, link or corroborating evidence. Nothing, no link, not even a dubious link, all you've done is capitalise the word "fact" in the hopes of making your anecdotal tripe sound authoritative and frankly it doesn't work.

    Allow me to explain why a US$0.99 app is not successful on the Android marketplace, because the functionality provided by the vast majority of $0.99 applications is barely worth the price tag. This isn't the killer though, the killer is that there is for every 1 US$0.99 application there are 3 free applications that provide the same functionality. If you want to look at success in the Android marketplace look at things like the exchange client "Touchdown" by Nitrodesk. This application is US$25 to buy but they are targeting business users (who are more likely to pay as its easier an they have more disposable currency) and they provide a product that is vastly superior to anything else on the market.

    Here this thing, I'm going to say it again "and they provide a product that is vastly superior to anything else on the market". This is the best way to get ahead in any market, be better, be worth the price you're asking as the majority of paid applications are not worth the price they are asking. But it seems easier to blame the bogeyman called piracy then admit that your program is not worth what you're asking for it. The simple fact is that Android users don't really need to pirate anything as there is almost always a free app that provides the same level of functionality.

    Your refusal to accept fact doesn't change the facts.

    Just because you call your opinions fact doesn't make them facts.

  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @04:38AM (#30182812)

    Those prices are the subsidised, monthly contract prices though, aren't they? I expect when they release the droid over here in the UK you'll be able to get it free if you go for something like a 2-year £45/month contract.

    My point is that most android phones at the moment are still 'premium' phones but I think that's about to change. There'll still be high-end Android phones, but it's also a cheap way for handset manufacturers (and telecom companies) to provide smartphone-y aimed at the lower end.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 21, 2009 @08:02AM (#30183450)

    I am statistically awed by your scientific evidence displayed a test group of no less than several developers, and bow to your display of facts to refute the anecdotal evidence of the poster you replied to.

    Well done!

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