Apple’s iOS platform has paid out more than a billion dollars to third-party developers through the iTunes App Store, but Google’s Android Market has yet to experience the same kind of success. Developers of Android apps aren’t throwing in the towel just yet, however; in a recent Bloomberg article, programmers said they have “high hopes” for the future. Why not, given how Android phones are outselling those running either the iOS or BlackBerry platforms in the U.S.?
The sentiment of waiting for Android’s popularity to spawn profits is summed up nicely by Andrew Stein, the director of mobile business development for PopCap, maker of Peggle, Bejeweled and other popular games. He expects revenues from Android apps to catch up to those of the iPhone by the end of next year, as the company will launch titles for iOS and Android simultaneously by the middle of 2011.
“Even though we are not making any money on Android right now, we have pretty high hopes for it,” Stein told Bloomberg, adding “There’s really no reason why users shouldn’t consume and buy content to the same extent on an Android phone as they are on an iPhone.”
More phones aren’t yet equating to more sales, however. David Zhao, CEO of Zecter, said that 30 percent more iPhone customers of his ZumoDrive product upgrade to a paid version compared to Android users. Perhaps Google has fostered too much of a free mentality with products, which is now carrying over to the Android Market? After years of unpaid services like Gmail, Google Voice and Google Talk, consumers may be conditioned to — and expect — unpaid services or software on a Google-powered phone.
The Bloomberg piece reiterates several of the challenges faced by developers and consumers in Google’s own Android Market that we’ve mentioned earlier. The Market isn’t available in every country where Android phones are sold, which quickly limits the potential user base and sales revenue for a developer. Android tablet devices traditionally don’t have Market access either. Apps can be difficult to find — ironically, since Google is a leader when it comes to searching for information — although in the latest version of Android, the Market experience has slightly improved.
The Android Market experience will be getting better, however. In May, Vic Gundotra showed off upcoming features such as a web-based Market and the ability to send app installations to a handset from the browser. The question is: How much patience do developers have left for Android when mobile apps for iOS are paying larger dividends?
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