Translating Downloads to Cash: Monetizing the Droid

by / Monday, 16 December 2013 / Published in Business

Despite being the most popular phone platform in the world, the Droid has suffered from some issues with monetization. While the Android market far exceeds the iOS market, the iOS market is still in the lead when it comes to gross revenue. Android developers often find it difficult to monetize their applications creatively leading many developers that are interested in monetization to focus on the iOS platform first. Regardless, the Android can be an incredibly powerful platform for developers that are inventive enough to take advantage of it.

The Untapped Power of the Droid

Android currently has 81 percent of the global market share and there is every indication that it will continue growing. Despite this, Android sales pale in comparison to iOS sales. Android currently has only a third of the sales that iOS does. Part of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Developers are aware that iOS applications make more money, and thus they put their effort towards monetizing iOS applications rather than monetizing Android applications. Those that want to publish free applications, on the other hand, may move towards Android because it is known as a publisher of free applications. The reputation of both systems may be the Droid’s undoing, but that doesn’t mean that this won’t change.

Marketing to a Global Audience

Of course, there are other issues at hand that keep Android in second place. One of the reasons the Android operating system is so incredibly popular is because of its Chinese users. Unfortunately, China’s Android phones don’t have a direct line to the Android marketplace the way China’s iPhones have a line to the iOS store. All of these things together mean that a developer on Android needs to be more aggressive than an iOS developer. At the same time, it also means that the Android market has an incredible amount of untapped potential.

Focus on In-Application Purchases

When monetizing on Android devices, developers need to be aware of the unique difficulties of the platform and use them to their advantage. Due to the unique nature of the Android device, a free application that has in-application purchases may be far more advantageous than a paid application. Applications on the Android store are going up against an incredible amount of free applications. The platform is simply not the best place to market a paid application the way that the iOS store is. Cutting out important parts of an application has the chance of breeding resentment and has the additional drawback of not allowing the user to see how useful the product actually is.

Consider a Timed Demo

Offering seven days or even a single day of free use is an excellent way to get a user hooked on your application before they decide to purchase it. Interestingly, timed demos haven’t been used extensively in applications even though they are still used commonly in video games. Timed demos are extremely easy to setup and very cost-effective, but they do reduce impulse purchases as the user does have time to consider whether they truly need the application. This is a method best used if you’re truly confident in your product.

Don’t Write Off Advertising

For these reasons, advertising has actually become one of the major forms of monetization. Interstitial ads and banners ads are incredibly valuable monetization tools, much like they have been throughout the web. As an additional bonus, there are advertising networks already set up that have out-of-the-box code available for those that want to simply plug advertising into their app without much fuss.

The Difference Between Games and Utilities

Games have better venues for monetization than most utility applications, and have posted the most significant sales overall on both Android and iOS. Games can sell levels, unique abilities, characters and set up a pay-for-play architecture. Utilities have more challenges ahead and need to play to their unique strengths. One example of this would be an alarm clock app with a free version that doesn’t work on Thursdays. The user would have four days of the week to evaluate it but would find it virtually useless for long-term use without payment.

Things that Kill the Droid

While monetizing your applications, there are a few things that you want to avoid. Many developers decide upon the price of their application based on what they want rather than what their application is truly worth. Developers need to commit to comprehensive research to find a valuation that is truly fair. A lower price can sometimes translate to more revenue. Developers also need to ensure that their attempts at monetization don’t make their application aggravating to use, as this will usually turn off more users than it will capture.

Monetizing for the Android system may seem challenging at first, but it’s not something that developers should shy away from. While statistics may indicate that there is a lack of monetization on the platform, this is mostly due to the fact that the platform has had an emphasis on free materials from the beginning. Opportunities are available on the Android system and the Android system has an incredible amount of reach across the world. Applications that are properly monetized will be able to gain from exposure across 81 percent of the market share that the Android demands.