Embarking on the journey to create your first Android app can be both exciting and daunting. It's exciting, because from that first brainwave you've put pen to paper and begun to flesh out these first ideas into concrete plans. It can be daunting however, because even if you know how to code, have studied all of the documentation and are ready to go, you still don't know if you should go ahead, or how you'll make any money off of your new app. Google, the company behind Android and owner of the Play Store, have put together an interactive site to help you take your first steps into the world of Android apps, monetization and even marketing. Here are some of the highlights that Google's interactive site has put together.
Is Your App New? Know Your Audience
Regardless of whether or not this is your first app, you'll need to make sure you're not just recycling other ideas out there. Apple's famous "we have enough fart apps" comment does hold some truth. It's one thing to release another app or game that's similar to others with a few important twists, but it's a whole other thing to just release a duplicate of another app already out there. Not only will users find this disingenuous, but you might find your app removed from app stores. Instead, you need to think long and hard about what it is that makes your app unique, and a lot of that is looking at the competition to make sure that you're offering your users something fresh, and something new.
The next part of the equation is to know your audience. This is yet more research, but will ultimately open your eyes to the sort of features and things that your potential users are looking for. If you're creating a utility for instance, you need to research and find out what sort of updates and new features your users will come to expect.
Does Your App Deliver a Good Experience?
Google offers up a great amount of free material for both developing and troubleshooting your app, and while perfecting your Android app can prove difficult, it's well worth it. Google has discovered that around 70% of users think that an app that's fast is an important feature. Moreover, an easy to use app is something that people have come to expect these days. This means that you'll need to embark on some serious users testing. You can use Google+ to beta test apps with the community and of course, you can test things privately on your own. The more feedback you can get prior to releasing your app into the app stores, the better.
It's no good promising your users - and yourself - that updates will fix the problem, you need to start off nice and strong, with a cohesive experience. In terms of today's Android landscape, you should use a Material Design look and feel to deliver a modern and slick experience, and it should definitely perform quickly and be free of bugs.
Choose the Right Monetization Methods
Things are constantly changing when it comes to monetization methods in the app space, but there's definitely a fit for you and your app out there. You just have to choose which one. Part of the battle is knowing what each method is about, but also making sure you can guarantee some sort of revenue out of them. Tuyen Nguyen, Mobile Developer Advocate at Google says that "Developers should evaluate frequency of use and potential download volume. For example, if they build a utility app that users open once a week, then ads may not provide the highest monetization opportunity. However, if your app experiences high usage frequency, then ads can provide great revenue potential, since revenue tends to grow as impressions increase. Developers will have to weigh the opportunity cost of an upfront payment (paid downloads) against future revenue."
This is sound advice, and considering that AdMob surveys have found in the majority of modern markets, users will only download free apps, rather than paying for them upfront. So, if you're developing a game that is suited to small-to-medium play sessions fairly often, then the in-app purchase method might be the way to go. There are many app monetization companies out there for you to play with, but it's not rocket science. If your app or game is more geared to constant use for longer periods of time, then ads might generate more revenue and keep your audience happier than asking for more money at each turn. Finally, paid apps is a tricky path to go down. It's generally only a good idea if your app is something like a niche utility that is high in value to users, but isn't used in high volumes. If an app or game isn't designed to be used regularly, then you're unlikely to make much money of those users. As such it's often best for both of you to ask for that money upfront rather than creating a bad experience for them and losing money your end.