Despite seemingly omnipresent iPhone billboards, posters, and accessories at virtually every retail store and shop in the country, Android devices now represent 48% of the smartphone market to Apple's 32%. Though the exact numbers may vary, Android devices are being activated at a higher per-day rate than iPhones, confirming the growing strength and popularity of the Android OS. For those who develop apps for smartphones, the differences between Apple's tightly controlled app market and the open nature of the Google Play app store, coupled with the ability to update apps more quickly via the Android market, could signal it's time to seriously focus on Google Play and its profit potential.
With more than 20,000 apps added to the market every month (a number which seems to be growing exponentially), it's becoming more and more challenging to be seen as a valuable app. Regardless of what an app can do, the market favors those whose apps are most widely downloaded and retained (by those referred to as "loyal users"), and which are easy for the consumer to find using just the right keywords. Several services offer developers ways to track the success of their marketing strategies – which keywords in the developer's app description and in the name of the app itself are effective, number of downloads, retention and deletion rates, whether the price point is right, and how appealing the app's logo and overall appearance are. With fine-tuning, a developer can effectively tweak their app's content, look, feel, and description keywords to bring in more users who will download, utilize, and keep the app.
But what about keeping the app current and functional? Updating apps is much more seamless and less time-consuming on Android's market than on Apple's platform. Android updates are virtually instant, whereas iPhone apps require a wildly variable approval time of days, weeks, or even months. Some developers working with Apple have simply given up and shifted their focus to the Android market. In addition, developers working with Android can easily track where their downloads are coming from, whether it be a user's keyword search (called "organic users") or a user browsing through similar apps ("inorganic users") and coming upon theirs. This readily available information from Android gives developers a much clearer picture of what's working and what isn't, as opposed to Apple's more controlled – and therefore ambiguous – feedback.
The gaps for developer profits are also closing: the average cost for an app on Google Play is now higher than on iTunes. This could translate into much more profit for those developers who focus on Android apps, whether this is in addition to providing iPhone apps, or instead of it. The ability to choose a precise price to charge for one's app is another of Google Play's appeals, since iTunes apps are fixed at the 99 cent mark: $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, and so forth.
So how does one get an app noticed? Many factors will play into whether users will find and download a developer's app. The logo, name, appearance, functionality, stability, price point, keywords, and written description will all need to be balanced just right before an app can gain ground in the huge market. Gauging one's competition is also essential. Do similar apps have mostly positive feedback? How much feedback? Where are their weaknesses? What do their users seem to complain about? What do they praise? How will your app measure up to these competitor apps? How will it overtake these apps? Does you have some android app reviews ?
With lots of helpful information available online, in addition to services offering to assist developers with the marketing process, a hard-working developer might end up creating and releasing the next hugely popular app being downloaded on everyone's Android device.