Android Apps – The Hard Sell? – Comparison of Android App Stores Included

August 20, 2011

Selling your wares on the Android platform is what some would call “a waste of time” and to be honest I would be very tempted to agree with them. Why would this be the case you may ask? In this article I will attempt to answer that question as well as put forward a comparison of a number of Android app stores, so you know which are worth the effort and which are waste of your time.

In this article I am going to use our latest app “Funky Cam 3D” for Android phones and tablets (http://www.funkycam3d.co.uk) as a frame of reference.

Our company Pocketeers Limited (http://www.pocketeers.co.uk) released its latest Android app “Funky Cam 3D” across a number of Android app stores a few weeks ago. To date we have had a grand total of 14 sales, YES, you did read that right “14″ sales. The very same app on iOS has sold 20x that amount in half the time and 10x as many on Samsung Bada in just 2 days

Ok, so we took the rather disappointing sales on the chin and came up with a cunning plan to get the app selling somehow. Our first idea was to drop the price to free for a few days in an attempt to increase the apps popularity with users. Unfortunately the Android Market does not allow developers to change an app from free to paid, which means as soon as a developer changes their app to free they cannot change it back to paid without deleting the app and re-launching it under a new name.

So as an alternative we decided to release a free ad-supported version of Funky Cam 3D. Going on how badly our app was selling we were surprised when many thousands of Android users downloaded our app across various app stores and directly from our web site.

Ok, now the “pain in the ass” bit. Submitting apps to the various app stores is a difficult and time consuming process, a process that will bring you close to tears. Each developer portal has its very own submissions system as well as required art work sizes and formats. Unlike when you submit an app to Apple for certification you find that you spend days on the task of submitting your apps information to the various app stores out there. Why not just submit the app to the Android Market you ask, surely the Android market would offer the greatest exposure? Maybe the following figures will clear this up:

Android Download Statistics for Funky Cam 3D

Our own web site – Over 15,000 downloads (we posted our APK link to various public forums and warez forums)
Appia – 3880 copies
Android Market – 2506 copies
SlideMe – 1198 copies
Mobiles24 – 701 copies
Mobango – 549 copies
Mikandi – 143 copies
AndroidPit – 134 copies
GetJar – 48 copies
Handster – 19 copies
Soc.io mall – 0 copies

As you can see from the above list we have some clear winners and some clear losers. Notable points:

* It would appear that one of the best ways to market free apps is from your own web site coupled with aggressive marketing.
* Appia actually beat the Android Market by a substantial margin, which surprised us. In case you are wondering Appia supply apps to various partners such as Handango, Pocketgear and Mobile2day
* SlideMe figures were a big surprise, we did not expect such figures from what we thought as a minor portal
* Our biggest surprise above all was how badly our app has performed on GetJar, which is supposedly one of the largest app distributors on the planet (we just have no explanation)
* Our greatest downloads came from warez forums. We expected a lot of downloads from this source but were knocked back by just how many we got

So above all else, what did we learn from our little Android app experiment? Well, we learnt that Android users don’t like to pay for apps but will download free apps in droves! A mentality we have coined “frap-mentality”. We also learnt that Ad supported apps do not offer a sufficient return even if downloaded in the 10’s of thousands. Our ad revenues are enough to pay for a cheap meal at the local public house (maybe a subject for a new blog)

If you are considering building a business around developing apps or gaming products for the Android platform then make sure that it is your 2nd choice of platform. Use a cross platform development system such as the Marmalade SDK (http://www.madewithmarmalade.com), this way you can re-target Android quite easily without significant investment in Java or the Android SDK.

You can download Funky Cam 3D from the Android market at:

Funky Cam 3D on the Android Market and
Free version of Funky Cam 3D on the Android Market for those that like shiny new Ads

Update 30th August 2011

Quick download figures update to this post:

Our own web site – Over 17,000 downloads (slowed substantially)
Appia – 13526 copies (massive increase)
Android Market – 4188 copies (pleasant increase)
Mobango – 2623 copies (huge jump)
SlideMe – 1503 copies (up 50%)
Mobiles24 – 942 copies (up a little)
AndroidPit – 214 copies (nearly doubled)
Mikandi – 174 copies (up a little)
GetJar – 154 copies (almost tripled but figures are still terrible)
Handster – 34 copies (good increase but still low figures)
Soc.io mall – 0 copies (Hmm, are these guys alive?)

Update 9th October 2011

Quick download figures update to this post:

Appia – 73665 downloads (massive increase)
Our own web site – 22,000 (slowed considerably)
SlideMe – 12306 downloads (massive increase)
Android Market – 11070 downloads (huge increase)
Mobango – 5042 downloads (good increase)
AndroidFreeware – 3189 downloads (new addition)
1Mobile – 1955 downloads (new addition)
Mobiles24 – 1673 downloads (respectable increase)
AndroidPit – 441 downloads (nearly doubled)
GetJar – 366 downloads (good increase, but I thought that this app store was supposed to be the largest free app store out there?)
Mikandi – 274 downloads (up a little)
Handster – 96 downloads (good increase but still low figures)
Soc.io mall – 1 download (woohoo at last!)

Downloads have nearly doubled in most app Android stores , but some app stores are clearly flying ahead!

Update 16th October 2011

Another quick download figures update to this post:

Appia – 93014 downloads (no stopping Appia)
Our own web site – 22,000 (stopped tracking, its too much effort)
SlideMe – 14260 downloads (slight jump)
Android Market – 12233 downloads (slight jump)
Mobango – 5109 downloads (slight increase)
AndroidFreeware – 3317 downloads (slight increase)
1Mobile – 1955 downloads
Mobiles24 – 1770 downloads (slight increase)
AndroidPit – 473 downloads (slight increase)
GetJar – 400 downloads (up a bit)
Mikandi – 284 downloads (up a little)
Amazon App Store – 128 downloads over 2-3 months (This is the paid version but Amazon have had it free that long it counts as free for this article)
Handster – 103 downloads (tiny increase but still low figures)
Fasmicro – 34 downloads (new addition, around 2 months data)
Appoke – 2 downloads (new addition, live 6 days)
Mobireach – 2 download (new addition, 4 weeks data)
Soc.io mall – 2 downloads (we got another download :) )
CNET – 1 download (new addition, 5 weeks of data)

Update 6th November 2011

Another quick download figures update to this post:

Appia –  148390 downloads
SlideMe – 20286 downloads
Android Market – 15276 downloads
Mobango – 5393 downloads
AndroidFreeware – 3616 downloads
1Mobile – Removed as 1Mobile no longer show download stats
Mobiles24 – 1975 downloads
GetJar – 724 downloads (in contrast one of our very old J2ME mobile game DEMOS  has been downloaded 3.759 times in the same period, making GetJar very much still a Java ME app store)
AndroidPit – 549 downloads
Mikandi – 312 downloads
Amazon App Store – 170 downloads
Handster – 126 downloads
Fasmicro – 38 downloads
Mobireach – 17 downloads
Appoke – 14 downloads
Soc.io mall – 8 downloads
CNET – 1 download

Other Android Developer Downloads / Sales Statistics

I will list here any other developers Android sales / downloads statistics that I come across:

Ziggys Android Download Statistics at ZIggy’s Games

If you would like a link to your Android download or even sales statistics posting here then let me know

36 Comments to "Android Apps – The Hard Sell? – Comparison of Android App Stores Included"

  1. drmop wrote:

    Quick download figures update to this post:

    Our own web site – Over 17,000 downloads (slowed substantially)
    Appia – 13526 copies (massive increase)
    Android Market – 4188 copies (pleasant increase)
    Mobango – 2623 copies (huge jump)
    SlideMe – 1503 copies (up 50%)
    Mobiles24 – 942 copies (up a little)
    AndroidPit – 214 copies (nearly doubled)
    Mikandi – 174 copies (up a little)
    GetJar – 154 copies (almost tripled but figures are still terrible)
    Handster – 34 copies (good increase but still low figures)
    Soc.io mall – 0 copies (Hmm, are these guys alive?)

  2. Android App Stores (includes sales figures) - Android Forums wrote:

    [...] the actual download figures for one of the apps across a number of portals. Take a read at Android Apps – The Hard Sell? – Comparison of Android App Stores Included | DrMop, actual download figures are included as well as an update to the figures today Hope this little [...]

  3. Android App Stores (includes sales figures) | TechBrief wrote:

    [...] a read at http://www.drmop.com/?p=32, actual download figures are included as well as an update to the figures [...]

  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks 4 sharing these numbers!

  5. Saying goodbye to Google | Apps @ Burlock.org wrote:

    [...] with Slideme. I came to this decision earlier today after reading an interesting article that compared different app store performance and showed, quite possibly, that Google’s market isn’t the only viable app store [...]

  6. Kevin wrote:

    Wow you achieved 14 sales on Android thats amazing. Ive only achieved 9 and 20 after about 6 months. Thank you for this article. You forgot to mention the amount of people who talk about you becoming a millionaire when in reality homeless with no money is nearer the reality. I totally agree with everything you have written.

  7. drmop wrote:

    Hi Kevin,

    I tend to agree with you. App development is sold by the portals as the next gold rush, but sadly that is only the case for those that are lucky enough to stumble somehow into the top 50 or so apps (maybe top 100). Below that, developers are lucky to earn the costs of their development back. I know a few of the huge developers are releasing smart phone games, but they usually do get the exposure they need, so it is worth while for them. The smaller developer however doesn’t really stand much of a chance and who’s only purpose is to bloat the app counts of the various app stores.

    That said I refuse to give up for the moment, I’m sure that there is a formula out there to make an app a success, we just need to find it :)

  8. Neil wrote:

    Thanks for the information you’ve offered here, it’s been very enlightening and convinced me to try out some alternate markets.

    My first Android app has been on the market over 3 months, and although I’m not getting rich, I have sold over 300 without marketing.

    I launched my paid and free app on SlideMe a few days ago, and the free one has been very well received, 800 downloads so far. No, I’m not making many sales there, but the exposure on SlideMe has boosted the number of downloads I’m getting on AndroidMarket, which is where I do get sales.

    The reason for this seems to be that SlideMe users are far more likely to share my app than Android Market users, and some of the people they share with end up buying it from Android Market. I don’t know why SlideMe users don’t buy it, but it’s early days.

    I tried out Funky Cam. It doesn’t work on my Galaxy Tab. All I see is a gray background and the bottom left button causes the app to crash. If this is the same on the rest of the Galaxy S family, then you’re missing out on more than 20% of the market, according to my stats.

  9. drmop wrote:

    Hi Neil,

    Many thanks for posting your experiences, its good to get an all round view of what’s going on from a variety of developers. If I had the money and the time I would carry out a proper multi-case study.

    Its great to hear that you have had some success with the Android Market. I want the Android Market to succeed and many developers to actually earn at least their development costs back.

    We will be rolling out an update for Funky Cam 3D next week. It would be very much appreciated if you could let us know if the update fixes the issues that you are experiencing.

    Its interesting to hear that your Slideme downloads are driving sales to the Android Market. That’s a marketing method we haven’t actually considered.

    Have you tried Verizon Wireless? They have just opened up a branding portal which you can use to promote your products on the Verizon network. We are in the process of trying this system out ourselves.

  10. Neil wrote:

    I checked 1.4.0 and it’s got the same problem.

    Poking through the system log, the camera is detected and the recording resolution is defaulting to 800×600, but it looks like the app isn’t allocating enough memory to preview at that resolution:

    E/SecCamera( 5373): startPreview: get the first frame of the preview
    D/CameraHardwareSec( 5373): MemoryHeapBase(fd(15), size(5760064), width(800), height(600))
    E/CameraHardwareSec( 5373): CameraHardwareSec: mPostViewWidth = 320 mPostViewHeight = 240 mPostViewSize = 153600
    E/CameraHardwareSec( 5373): CameraHardwareSec: mRawHeap : MemoryHeapBase(previewHeapSize(153608))
    I/CameraView(12661): done
    E/Camera-JNI(12661): Manually set buffer was too small! Expected 720000 bytes, but got 153600!

  11. Swayzie wrote:

    Your article was very informative. I wanted to know, what are the top pay app markets? I have had some success on the android market but I would like to diversify and get my paid apps on as many pay app markets as possible. Thank you in advance for your time.

  12. drmop wrote:

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for checking that, we have uploaded a new version with more memory allocated to the camera , Let us know if you have any more trouble with it

  13. drmop wrote:

    Hi Swayzie,

    In terms of sales I think its probably the Android Market, follwoed by SlideMe. We got the apps out before the “Just In” section was removed from the market so that may not be the case for new apps. We will find out soon as we will be releasing a new game soon.

  14. Swayzie wrote:

    Appia is a pay app market as well correct? I’m awaiting their developer account approval. Any insight into their app reach? Thank you for your previous response.

  15. drmop wrote:

    Yes, Appia do accept paid submissions, but we heard that they are still trying to get operator billing integrated, which would explain why our sales in that market are low and our free app downloads are so high

  16. Neil wrote:

    Is 1.5.0 the latest? Sorry, the problem is still there. Same log message as before. I checked the camera on the tablet and it works. The guts of the device is a Galaxy S1 handset with a big screen, so it’s not unusual hardware.

    SlideMe’s install total doesn’t match my stats. I only started accurately tracking it in the last couple of days. I’ve had nowhere near the 2,500 installs that SlideMe claim, probably closer to a half or a third of that.

    It’s definitely caused a big increase in Android Market downloads of the free version and stronger sales though.

  17. drmop wrote:

    Hmm, thats disappointing news. Could I send you a build directly to try later on today?

    With regards to SlideMe, maybe they are counting failed installs and updates in their download totals?

    Glad to hear that you are getting better sales in the Market, nice job

  18. Neil wrote:

    Sure, mail me a build to test directly.

    For my app, sales + cancellations is pretty much always equal to 5% of the total number of downloads of the free version on Android Market. I’ve got theories on why, but I can’t say if it’s one thing in particular that’s causing users to buy it.

    The hard part is getting people to download the free one in the first place.

  19. drmop wrote:

    Will do, thanks.

    We are getting a huge number of cancellations on Android Market only, people buying our app and game and then cancelling it within minutes of the purchase. Just don’t understand what’s going on there

    You thought about putting out a press release on somewhere like http://www.prlog.org/ announcing the release of the free and paid versions? If you get the keywords right then you should appear on a lot of relevant web sites

  20. Neil wrote:

    That’s a good idea about a press release.

    I had a heap of cancellations yesterday for about 12 hours caused by a market glitch that auto cancelled every sale. One guy even tried 5 times to buy it before giving up. I couldn’t even buy stuff myself for the same reason.

    Generally clusters of cancellations I usually attribute to Google glitches and sometimes piracy.

    If you are seeing consistent cancellations over days or weeks then it could be something in the app that’s doing it.

    The camera glitch in Funky Camera could cause a high percentage of cancellations in that app because Samsung’s devices are so common.

    Your game works on my Galaxy Tab though.

    Another thing that might drive cancellations is not having enough obvious differences between the paid and free version of an app or game. The only people that would pay then would be the ones who wanted to get rid of the ads or support the developer and there wouldn’t be many of those. Everyone else might buy it to have a look, then cancel when there was nothing obviously new.

  21. drmop wrote:

    I’ve uploaded a version to http://www.battleballz.com/FunkyCam3DFree.apk. The memory has been increased substantially so hopefully it will work

    Its possible that some of those users are experiencing issues with Funk Cam which is causing them to cancel. Funky Cam is also a bit of a strange app (not seen anything else like it), so using it can take a bit of getting used to.

    We considered removing features and did in fact produce a lite version of BattleBallz for Android but it felt gimped and lost a lot of its feel so we decided to take it down and release a free ad supported version instead.

  22. Neil wrote:

    Whatever memory you are adjusting isn’t affecting the message. It’s still complaining that the preview memory that was allocated is only 320×240 while it expects 800×600.

    Here’s the entire system log for a session including the button induced crash.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8570503/funkycam-log.txt

    If your free apps have a high retention rate, then it means that people value them. If so, then not getting conversions would be caused by users either being unaware of a paid version, or from not offering a compelling reason to pay for it. Removing ads in my opinion isn’t enough motivation for most people.

    My free app has a 50% retention rate, but the file size is huge (16M) so that counts against it since a lot of phones don’t have much storage space.

  23. Neil wrote:

    Here’s some suggestion for things I’d do to the UI:

    Remove the quit button from the front screen, it’s giving users an opportunity to accidentally quit the app if they are just randomly clicking buttons, or if they miss the hide button.

    Move the left column of buttons to the right. Most people are right handed, so they’d have to reach across the screen to hit the buttons if they are holding the phone in their left hand.

    Center the ad across the top to make it more prominent and improve the chance of getting clicks.

    The question mark button should pop up a full page ad for the paid version, which has on it a buy button, a share button, view more apps, help and quit. That way more users will be forced to see the ad to access these non-critical functions. Most people don’t read help files even if they are easily available, so having your buy and view apps button at the bottom of the help page means that few will probably see it.

    You could also have this as a slideshow that includes ads for Battle Ballz.

    Come up with some improvements to differentiate the two versions that can be used as bullet points in the ad. Things like a feature to randomly select options maybe? They don’t have to be amazing, there just needs to be a list to give the paid one some additional value.

    Implement something like Flurry.com to anonymously track what users are doing in the free versions. I suspect the front page ad for your game isn’t getting many clicks of the buy button because of it’s position. Users who are opening the app to use it or try it would be unlikely to decide they want to do something completely different just after it’s loaded, and if they did, they might not come back to Funky Cam. Tracking clicks would help figure this out.

  24. drmop wrote:

    Thanks for the log and your ad placement suggestions. When we finally fix the issue with the Galaxy Tab I will look into moving a few things around.

  25. Jonathan wrote:

    Thanks for posting (and continuing to update) these numbers! It’s really handy to see a first-hand experience with the different marketplaces. Never would I have expected the Android Marketplace to not come in first!

    Can you offer any similar advice regarding the “warez” sites that have given you so many installs? Are there obvious front-runners in that category too? I didn’t even know to think of it before reading your post.

  26. drmop wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    No problem, its good to let other developers know approximately what to expect (something I wish we had before we started). Although Funky Cam 3D is a bit of an odd ball app experiment, its doing quite well in terms of downloads. Some seem to love it whilst others seem to hate it, either way we are happy we put it out. I suspect more serious apps will do better figures that I have posted here.

    Mobilism -http://www.mobilism.org
    Blackdroid – http://www.blackdroid.net

    These are two good sites, although I don’t have any exact figures, we do get much more traffic from Mobilism. If you do a quick Google you will find many sites that are willing to host Warez content.

    One thing we are going to try next is to create torrents for our apps then try and monitor the download activity. You may also want to try this.

    Mat

  27. Neil wrote:

    Thanks for the continuing updates.

    Got any tips for setting up Appia? I’ve had my app there for a month and got a total of 600 downloads – ie. awful. I reckon one of the options is blocking it from appearing because I can’t find in on Handango or any of the pocket gear sites which is where I would expect it to appear.

    No idea what’s wrong though (apart from Appia’s awful dev UI LOL), probably something I should have/shouldn’t have clicked.

    My experience with SlideMe has been exactly what you’ve had – ie. pretty good, though they do appear to be overstating downloads, I’ve only had 4,000 that I can account for while their dev portal says 14,000. Maybe they count upgrades? I’m happy with these guys either way. I’ve even a handful of paid version sales from them.

  28. drmop wrote:

    Ensure that you supply both web and OTA APK files (they are the same file just renamed for apps < 20MB in size). App stores that are fed by Appia can take some time to pick up on your app. best bet is to drop them a quick email and / or Appia to find out where you are in the submissions process.

    A few other tips with Appia:
    * Because your app / game is going to appear in a different number of store search engines you should include keywords such as android and app / game.
    * Long description supports HTML, so you can make your description look a bit more fancy
    * Add as many screen shots as possible
    * Have an eye catching app store icon
    * Provide a technical support email address

    You are probably doing most if not all of the above.

    Slideme may count upgrades, depends on how complex their system is. I will email them and find out.

  29. Neil wrote:

    I only had an OTA file… I’ll put a web version up as well. That could be it.

    Thanks

  30. drmop wrote:

    Slideme counts any download towards the downloads including updates. They are working on a new reporting system that will give more accurate figures.

  31. Ziggy wrote:

    Where do you find the download count at 1Mobile? I listed my games on that site a while back, but I couldn’t find any page that showed me statistics, so I stopped updating my apps on that store.

    Or do you have different APK’s for each site, so you can track them through your own analytics?

  32. drmop wrote:

    1Mobile used to list the number of downloads, but this has since disappeared. I will email them to find out what’s happened.

  33. Jin L wrote:

    This post is really helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Andromede wrote:

    Nice post!!

    I have a question: I´m thinking of using this alternative markets, and my “marketing system” is based on free limited apps that link to paid apps.

    Those paid apps are copy-protected using Google Market License (LVL).

    Can I upload free apps to a market that point to paid apps in Google Market??

    If not… How can I protect my apps agains piracy in those markets? It´s sure that Google protection will not work in other markets…

    Thank you for your answers an forgive my bad english :) !!

  35. drmop wrote:

    Many of these markets do allow you to point to the Android Market version of your app. The only app store that we have come across that doesn’t allow this is the Amazon App Store.

    Note that many of these app stores provide their own licensing check SDK, so you could integrate that if you wanted to release a paid version on those stores.

    Your English is pretty good by the way :)

  36. Alternative Android market downloads – October update - Ziggy's Games wrote:

    [...] released an update, but I haven’t really been tracking downloads. Recently, I came across this post on DrMop’s blog, and I decided to give Appia a try. I had started registering there a [...]

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