Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by the team at ustwo. In an email the other day they said they had an article about shortcomings in the Android Market and asked if we’d like to post it. It sounds like they’ve come up with a creative way to drive downloads in the Market and we thought that was worth sharing.
How does a developer showOFF™ on the Android Market place?
At ustwo™ – the studio of dreams – we’ve launched a number of successful apps on a various platforms including Apple’s App Store, The Nokia Ovi Store, and the Android Marketplace. We’ve experienced the most success to date with the Apple App Store where we have achieved over 700k downloads.
The number of apps made available to download on each of these stores increases day by day and with it, the ensuing popularity, hype and expectations surrounding them also grows – especially around the Android Marketplace. The Android Goldrush is well and truly on the cards.
For the last 6 months we’ve heard that the Android Marketplace is about to explode and its download numbers will soon begin to compete with those achieved on the Apple App Store. We’ve seen a major influx of up to 17 manufacturers releasing their own phones with the Android OS and most recently heard about the launch of Google’s Nexus – described as the iPhone killer. Then our hopes are immediately dashed as we hear that Google has only managed to shift 20k Nexus handsets in the first week compared to a pre-order of over 50k iPhones on the Vodafone UK carriers launch. We then hear a change in angle from Google and the emphasis in the press focuses on the way in which they sold and distributed the phone. This is just one timely example of something Android related, that sounds imminently massive, but then a few weeks later fails to live up to our expectations.
Unfortunately and being totally honest at ustwo™, we’re beginning to doubt the hype surrounding Android as just that…..hype. We’re now not sure if the Android Marketplace will ever manage to compete with Apple’s 3 billion download head start. What makes it worse is that it’s just been announced that according to Gartner, Apple is now responsible for 99.4% of mobile app sales. I think this really puts things into perspective. How can anyone – even Google compete with this level of dominance?
Well at ustwo™ we’ve had a think about some of the basic things Android Marketplace could do as a store front to compete with Apple’s App Store. We’ve highlighted some of the issues and limitations of the Android Marketplace that we see today:
A Store Front!
The Android Marketplace needs a simple online or desktop interface to enable users to browse the apps available to them. One key advantage to Apple is that all review sites online can easily point to the apps in question, even making money from the click-though if the user goes on to purchase. Without a storefront presence it’s near on impossible to sell.
Account purchase Synchronization
Also it’s likely that Android users will upgrade their handsets as the latest phones become available, so the need to simply create an account within the Android Market is 100% needed. Therefore the requirement to sync previously purchased Android apps onto other handsets is now a necessity to attract mainstream users. It should all be about user experience and at the moment it’s clearly and frustratingly not.
Customizable Search Options
Filter options have to be added to the Android Marketplace so that users can at least narrow down their search results. Right now they are confronted with an endless list of apps with no way to cut through the clutter. A filtering option is therefore another necessity allowing users for example to search by: number of downloads, most commented, highest rated etc. To help the search more tags and keywords are definitely needed to identify specific apps.
Promo codes (allow anyone to redeem a free copy of an app) are a powerful tool for developers to get their apps to the most important and influential bloggers, journalists and special fans. Without this they have to send the APK file (the source file of the Android app) to their contacts, and by doing this they risk piracy, which is clearly becoming a huge issue on the Android Market.
Expanding Google checkout for global market
While Android handsets are available for purchase in many countries throughout the world – the opportunity to buy paid apps is limited to specific countries. For example users in Sweden, Canada, Australia and Hungary are unable to purchase paid apps from the Android Marketplace. This clearly isn’t a restriction that sits well with developers – the market needs to be open.
Clear app ranking
The ability to properly categorize an app is very limited on the Android Marketplace. Developers and users are crying out for a more in-depth categorization on the storefront. A simple yet highly effective way to increase the number of downloads.
It’s because of these issues that as an android app developer we find it almost impossible to promote our applications as we’d like to. Simple changes listed above would make our job of promotion much easier; but as this isn’t the case, we’ve had no choice but to take the matter into our hands with our latest app – showOFF™.
showOFF™ is a free app with 5 exclusively designed and illustrated wallpapers by world famous ustwo™ designer Paris Hair which allows users to personalize their handset like no other. If that’s not enough – the app has been developed to be an ever-expanding gateway into ustwo’s world. So when a new ustwo™ app is launched on the Android Marketplace – a new, freshly designed wallpaper will be made available via showOFF™ for all users of the app.
We believe that by offering top quality free content interspersed with relevant information about our casual gaming premium apps – we can drive our fans to make a purchase that they would have been previously unaware of. We are essentially giving back twice in 1 app. Free wallpapers and the gift of awareness!
showOFF™ is launched today.
ustwo™ is a multi platform development studio based in London, UK and Malmo, Sweden – 50 strong and growing rapidly in notoriety. In the last year alone the studio has developed and released 16 apps including the infamous MouthOff™, .™ (48hour series), Steppin™ and Reebok’s iSprint. ustwo’s apps have sold globally in their 100,000s and have become brands in their own right.
mills™ is well known within the industry with his refreshingly honest and open approach being well received by developers, gamers and fans alike.