The implications of a money-making Android app

Car Locator pulled in more than $400 per day when it was featured in the Android Market

Android logoThere’s been plenty written about the App Store gold rush, but this is the first rags-to-semi-riches piece I’ve seen about the Android Market. Edward Kim, creator of the Car Locator app, saw his daily revenue jump from around $100 per day to more than $400 per day when the $3.99 app claimed a featured spot in the Market.

It’s only one data point, but I’m interested in the broader implications here. Those early “there’s gold in iPhone apps!” stories fueled interest in the platform. And while a lot of that iPhone excitement was later tempered by the realities of a hit-driven business, that first flush of exuberance was an important step.

If similar stories pop up in the Android universe — legit stories, I’m not advocating lies and fabrications — I see that catalyzing more developer interest, more competition, more refinement (something that’s sorely needed in the Android Market), and ultimately, a more robust Android app ecosystem. That’s a lot of “mores,” I know, but after three-plus months of using an Android device, my enthusiasm for this platform continues to grow. Apps like Google Goggles and Google Sky Map are amazing. What I’d like to see, however, is broader Android experimentation by companies not named Google.

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  • Zigurd

    It’s incredibly tough to make money from retail sales of apps, alone. Even on iPhone.

    The cases where mobile applications support a conventional business are mostly cases where retail revenue is small or zero, and the business model is based on ads, or other indirect income.

    Games usually don’t have that kind of business model, and only iPhone has reached the level of sales where the market size makes it possible for a game company to publish a major title on iPhone and make money. Pricing for iPhone games is usually a small fraction of what a DS or PSP game would sell for.

    But, Android has a lot of opportunities for developers iPhone does not:

    Developers can sell apps to carriers and/or OEMs as system enhancements and pre-loads.

    Developers can expand their business into system integration and contract development for carriers and OEMs.

    Developers can modify, or add to, any aspect of the Android platform and sell that modification or enhancement as a platform technology product to OEMs.

    While system integration and mobile technology licensing is not a trivial business to break into, the companies that operate in that part of the mobile industry are larger than most mobile applications companies, and have larger companies as clients and customers.

    Android enables the entry of new participants into that part of the mobile industry, since you don’t have to have the dosh to buy development systems for platforms like REX or Nucleus. If Nokia is able to successfully attract other OEMs to using an open Symbian or Maemo platform, that will make other parts of the OEM ecosystem more accessible, too.