Welcome fellow Android developers! So you wrote the latest smash hit Android game or app but want to know where do you sell it? How do you maximise your app or games exposure to the Android community and increase your potential sales / return on investment (ROI)?
It cannot be denied that Android smart phones and tablets are here to stay. The market share for Android is continually growing, up 5.8% last quarter to a staggering 41.8% of the US market (see my blog on who rules the roost). With the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet on the brink of release at the stupidly low price of $199, I think we are going to see an even bigger shift in Android adoption rates coming towards the end of 2011.
Whilst revenue from paid apps and games aren’t doing so well when compared to the likes of iOS and RIM, Android users will download free and freemium content in droves. This creates a wealth of opportunity for the smart developer.
Selling your Android products is a slightly different ball game when compared to selling them on platforms such as iOS, Bada and Windows Phone 7 etc. because the Android platform is an open system. If you are originally from an iOS / Bada / WP7 dev background then you are in for a bit of a shock (Symbian, Windows Phone and Java developers already know the score).
This wonderful open doors Android system (from the perspective of Android game and app publishers / distributors) however does create a certain amount of fragmentation when it comes to selling / promoting your apps and games to app users and gamers. Some app developers will see this as a bane whilst other app developers will see this as a golden opportunity. I am personally starting to lean on the golden opportunity side of the fence.
The Pros and Cons of a Fragmented Android Market
Whilst a lot can be said about Android’s open doors model for its app distribution system, it does have some clear pros and cons:
- Your app or game gets featured in the new / updated sections of each separate app store instead of just the one which gives increased exposure, which in turn increases the chance of getting a hit product
- You can set the price of your app or game on a per app store basis
- Some Android app stores will carry content that others will not. For example, the MiKandi market distributes adult content for Android but most other Android app stores do not
- Some Android app stores inadvertently drive sales on other stores. For example, there is evidence to suggest that releasing a product for free on Slideme can drive sales on the Android Market
- The main Android app store (Google Android Market) does not allow the developer to switch from free to paid and back again, which completely rules out price-playing marketing tactics. This is however possible on other Android app stores, although changing your price on some app stores (Appia driven app stores for example), there will be a lag between you changing your price and the price changes rolling through to the stores (can sometimes take weeks, if at all)
- Anyone can sell and distribute Android apps and games including you the developer. This creates a huge potential opportunity for developers, especially free and freemium app developers
- Some Android phones and tablets are locked into certain app stores so if you do not launch your product on those stores then you will be losing out on a significant market
- Each Android store has its own set of submission guidelines, rules and art asset requirements that you need to adhere to in order to launch your apps and games on that store. This can prove to be a real pain.
- Updating your products across all Android app stores is very difficult and can be hard to track
- Many Android app stores have their own licensing check SDK to help prevent piracy (not a problem if you are going for free or freemium app model)
- Tracking sales across all Android stores takes a while (not a problem if you implement analytics such as Flurry)
- Promoting your app or game on each individual store can be difficult and potentially costly
I’m sure that if I sat here all day, I could probably fill up a few pages with more pros and cons, but alas I want to introduce you to the myriad of Android app stores out there.
The Big List of Android App Stores
Here’s the current list of Android app stores that I’ve built up over the last year or so (some also support other platforms such as iOS, Blackberry, Java and Windows Mobile) where you can sell or upload your wares. Note that some only accept free apps and games whilst others will accept both free and paid apps and games.
- Google Android Market – http://developer.android.com
- Appia – http://www.appia.com
- Slideme – http://slideme.org
- Mobango -http://www.mobango.com (free apps and game only)
- Samsung Apps – http://seller.samsungapps.com
- Amazon App Store – http://developer.amazon.com
- Vodafone – http://widget.vodafone.com
- Verizon Wireless – http://developer.verizon.com
- Cellmania – http://www.cellmania.com/content_providers
- Mobihand / Mobireach – http://www.mobireach.com
- MiKandi – http://developer.mikandi.com
- LG World – http://developer.lgmobile.com
- GetJar -http://developer.getjar.com (free apps and games only)
- Motorola shop4apps – http://developer.motorola.com
- BlueVia – http://bluevia.com
- Handster – http://www.handster.com/developers.php
- Optus -http://partnerconnect.optusnet.com.au
- Butterscotch / Tucows – http://www.butterscotch.com
- AppsLib – http://www.appslib.com
- Fasmicro – http://apps.fasmicro.net/developers
- Pdassi – http://pdassi.de
- Android Pit – http://www.androidpit.com
- Camangi Market – http://www.camangimarket.com
- DoComo Market – http://www.docomo-market.info
- Sony Ericsson e-store – http://estore.ericsson.com (seems to have died, our apps have been pending approval for months)
- FastApp Store - http://www.fastapp.com
- M1 App Store – http://appstore.m1.com.sg/developer
- MobileApps – http://www.mobileapps.com/mobileapps/main/developer.jsp
- Phoload – http://www.phoload.com/developer (free Android apps and games only)
- MV Store – http://www.mvstore.vn
- Exent – http://www.exent.com
- NeXva – http://corp.nexva.com/content-providers
- 1Mobile – http://author.1mobile.com
- AndroidFreeware – http://www.androidfreeware.net (free Android apps and games only)
- Mobiles24 – http://www.mobiles24.com (free apps and games only)
- CNET – http://upload.cnet.com
- Soc.io Mall – http://soc.io
- AppBackr – http://www.appbackr.com
- AndroidApps - http://www.androidapps.com (not sure how this one works)
- AndroidTapp - http://www.androidtapp.com/ (new app store)
- GiveMeApps - http://www.givemeapps.com/
- Nook Store - http://nookdeveloper.barnesandnoble.com/
- Android Games - http://android-games.org/
And a couple of Android warez sites that can drive big download numbers to free apps:
I have put the app stores in order of importance, so you should submit to those stores in the order provided above. This will allow you to safely ignore the stores lower down the list which do very little in terms of sales and downloads. If you are going free / freemium then you should try hit every single store, especially those listed as supporting only free apps and games.
If you want to see a few download figures across a number of Android stores then check out one of my previous blogs on the subject at
The figures are now a bit out of date, but they are definitely a surprising read.
A Few Note-worthy Android App Stores
After submitting a number of apps to the various app stores listed above, its worth mentioning some of our experiences. I have also called out a few other app stores that are quite unique and operate differently to what developers usually think of as an app store.
Google Android Market
The Google Android Market is a good app store in general and many Android phones do have access to it, but not all. Downloads and sales are supposed to update a few times per day, but from what we have observed, they update randomly. We can see no changes for weeks and then all of a sudden we see changes a few times per day. The Android Market also has a 15 minute returns clause, whereby a user can purchase your app and return it within 15 minutes if they do not like it. You will find that a lot of users will purchase your game or app then immediately cancel the purchase. We are not sure why this happens
Appia are a hidden jewel as far as we are concerned. They supply many app stores across the net including the likes of Handango, Pocketgear and Mobile2day. Our free apps on Appia are beating our Android Market downloads by 600%. Our paid apps sales are however doing less well than the Android Market.
Amazon App Store
Sales on the Amazon Android app store are, how can I put this (abysmal?) and in fact, if Amazon didn’t reduce our price to $0.00 for us then we would probably have no sales. Be warned, if you drop the price of your app or game below the list price you set on Amazons app store then be in for a telling off (we have been bollocked twice already). When you sign up with Amazon you agree to keep your Amazon list price the lowest across all app stores. If you have an app or game that relies heavily on an external service that you have to pay to maintain then be careful about letting any app store reduce your price to free as you could end up with a boat load of free customers to support.
Exent is actually a subscription service and not a traditional Android app store. Exent allow users to play your games for free, but you are paid a percentage of the subscription that users pay for the service, based upon how often your game has been played.
AppBackr is kind of a unique aopp store in that its targeting users that want to make money from your apps. Instead of selling apps, they ask their users to invest in the apps by committing to purchasing X copies of your app. When the app sells they get the profits.
Mobireach can submit your content to other stores such as AT&T, Nook store, HUHU and MT2, but you must agree to the terms and conditions of the stores. once you are signed up and you have submitted your content, click on Channel Connect->Channel Opt-in and agree to each of the terms and conditions then submit your apps for approval to these stores.
Best to avoid Vodafone, their new content standards are shown below:
- Have had a high number of downloads and consistently good reviews in other Android Market places
- Are updated frequently
- Are leaders in their category, and fit in with our specific catalogue/portfolio requirements
- Have good coverage of languages/territories covered by our Market.
- Have won industry awards and are recognised brands
- Demonstrate significant innovation
Which translates to “If you app or game is not one of the best selling with great reviews in its category then forget it”. Some how I don’t think that Vodafone’s app shop is going to be very successful with such little choice.
Verizon Wireless is another on operator deck and a little more forgiving than Vodafone when it comes to submissions / certification. The only down side and bonus (double edged sword I’m afraid) is that in order to get your product marketed, you need to provide a lot of high resolution vector art work to what Verizon call “The Machine”. The Machine is basically a marketing machine where you submit your marketing materials for approval. I’m assuming that once submitted and approved that Verizon will somehow use them for marketing your products.
Slideme have an updated section on their front page, whenever you make an update to your app it will appear at the top of this section. You can update quite often to increase visibility. I see SlideMe popping up all over the place lately so I did a little more digging. It would appear that SlideMe have many partner stores (much like Appia), particularly with OEM’s such as HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Acer, Asus/Garmin, Olivetti/Telecom Italia, Hewlett Packard, Pandigital, PeopleOfLava (Android TV), HCL that filter the content based on their target markets. Various enterprises even use SlideMe as a private distribution channel!
A Few Tips to Help you Beat the Guidelines
I have listed below a number of technical issues that you should be aware of to ensure that your game or app sails smoothly through the various app stores submission and certification processes:
- Handle the back and menu buttons – Ensure that the back button takes the user to the previous screen or menu and that the menu button brings up your in-app / game menu
- Deep linking – If you add links into your app that point to other apps that are available on another app store (and the store you are submitting to), then ensure that the links point to the version on the app store that you are submitting to. For example, of you submit a free / lite version of your game to the Amazon app store then ensure that the buy link points to the paid version on the Amazon app store and not some other app store. Same thing goes for advertising other app stores within you app.
- Screen shots – Ensure that your screen shots are of the most up to date version that you are submitting. if you app is ad supported then ensure that the screen shot shows the ads (our last build of Funky Cam 3D failed on this one)
- Make sure that your on-device app icon reasonably matches the icon you use to represent your app on the app store
- Make sure you get your AndroidManifest file right. If you use the camera for example then ensure that its set the camera uses permission in your manifest file
- Ensure that you increment your app version every time you submit a new version
- If your app requires some kind of special testing then let the app store know up front.
- If you know for certain that your app does not work on certain devices then let the app store know up front
Preparation for Submissions Across Multiple Android App Stores
Submitting your app to a large number of Android app stores requires a little preparation which is best done up-front. Below I have put together a small list of useful pieces of information that will help you prepare all of the information you are going to need up front
- Write a short 10 word marketing description
- Write a short 25 word marketing description
- Write a long marketing description (plain text and HTML)
- Produce a short list of potential categories that you app or game should fit into
- Create a list of comma separated keywords that you think users will be using to find apps and games just like yours (20 keywords max), put them in order of importance so you can cull less important ones, as some app stores allow less than 20 keywords
- Collect together 5 of your best screen shots and re-create them in the following sizes (save them in both JPG and PNG formats):
- 320 x 240
- 240 x 320
- 480 x 320
- 320 x 480
- 800 x 480
- 480 x 800
- Create versions of your app icon in the following sizes (PNG format):
- 512 x 512
- 500 x 500
- 480 x 480
- 400 x 400
- 200 x 200
- 150 x 150
- 142 x 142
- 128 x 128
- 114 x 114
- 85 x 85
- 80 x 80
- 75 x 75
- 72 x 72
- 70 x 70
- 64 x 64
- 60 x 60
- 57 x 57
- 50 x 75
- 50 x 50
- 40 x 40
- 38 x 38
- 32 x 32
- 30 x 30
- Create some marketing / promotions images::
- 480 x 120 banner
- 180 x 120 promo image
- 1024 x 500 feature image
- 120 x 180 promo image
- Produce a short video of your app or game in action (not essential)
- Produce a short QA FAQ in Doc and PDF format
I will keep updating the big list of Android app stores as I discover more. if you know of a store that you would like to see on this list then please let me know
If you want to monetise your apps by taking them across to other platforms which I highly recommend then I suggest you take a quick peak at my blog on the benefits of porting to other platforms, along with details on the incredible cross platform SDK, the Marmalade SDK
I hope that this little post truly does help increase your sales / downloads
Good luck with your sales and downloads!