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Summary:

Gameloft’s finance director Alexandre de Rochefort recently stirred up controversy by saying that the company planned to cut back on develop…

Android Market
photo: Google

Gameloft’s finance director Alexandre de Rochefort recently stirred up controversy by saying that the company planned to cut back on developing games for Android because there wasn’t enough money in it. He also said “many” other developers were doing the same. Now, comes survey data from Skyhook Wireless that backs up de Rochefort’s statements.

Skyhook is a location-based mobile tech firm, which developers use its platform to build location-aware features into their apps. The company surveyed over 30 mobile app developers, finding that nearly 60 percent of them are “not satisfied” with their Android profits to date. Market fragmentation, poor store design and a lack of new app discovery tools were also primary concerns. While not a huge sample size, developers like James Grafton, co-creator of the picture-sharing app PicSwap, said he’s going to “take a step back from Android and reconsider our efforts.”

So why aren’t Android app developers making money? The vast majority (82 percent) of respondents said it was because Android Market was poorly designed — making it difficult for users to find apps. (It’s worth noting that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) faced similar issues through a number of App Store redesigns). But a problem that’s unique to Android is that people need to use Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Checkout to buy apps, and 43 percent of developers surveyed said they’d make more money if Android supported carrier billing, or even just a simpler billing platform. Meanwhile, Android doesn’t seem to be as ad-friendly as Apple’s latest OS update; only 10 percent of Android developers are currently serving ads.

The developers Skyhook surveyed also viewed market fragmentation as a looming problem. With so many new Android handsets primed for launch, nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said that multiple versions of Android would make future development more difficult. “We simply can’t afford to test across all Android phones,” Grafton said, in a statement. Link to the full report (pdf) is here.

  1. Well as a G1 and Pixi owner I feel I must comment on this editorial. My main complaint about WebOS' application store goes right along the lines of this story. One thing i'm unhappy with on the WebOS app catalog is a lack of free applications. The android store has TONS of free stuff, and even makes it so you can sort out the ones that cost money. So with that said i'm sure android has too many free applications that there is no reason to pay for any. Take Twitter applications or widgets for example. I'm running a free widget on my g1 which is better than Tweed on my pixi. So why pay for one for either platform in my case?

    i'm actually surprised how there aren't very many free applications on webos…but maybe that's how its SUPPOSED to be…maybe developers shouldn't be going broke for me. But I can't help it, its what I got used to with the G1. Now i'm stuck in my free app expecting ways.

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  2. *correction* they surveyed "30" developers. "30" not "over 30". Flawed sample which leads to biased/unrepresentative numbers. No valid conclusions can be drawn from this worthless survey. Go back to statistics class. EPIC FAIL!

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  3. BeMeCollective Friday, December 4, 2009

    Hello!

    I would like to share my experience on this topic, please.

    We develop an application, investing hundreds of night-hours on it. Then, if we wish to sell it, Google does not allow us to sell in the market. “Canadian vendors not allowed in the market”.
    Ironically, they did take our 25 US dollars for the privilege of giving our free apps to the users, but no way to sell.
    So we put a LITE app in the market, and a paid app in Slide ME. The users see the LITE, free app in the market and ask for more and more features, for free.

    Nobody buys the paid app.

    This can go on for a while, but how long will it be until the good developers burn out and stop developing?

    Take for example BeMeBlackBox. Excellent reviews…

    ————————————————-
    http://www.mobilewhack.com/bemeblackbox-android-app-records-from-your-car/

    "Who says that the iPhone has to have all the cool apps? This Android mobile app known as BeMeBlackBox allows the user to mount their phone to the windscreen in order to save the last pre-programmed amount of time. So if you have a crash, just hit a button and you’ll have the footage uploaded to YouTube."
    ———————————————–

    But NOBODY buys it! They download the LITE version, that's it.

    Free apps are nice, but they don’t put food on my kids table, right?

    Best regards,

    Ari

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