Android Licenser is a new service from Edward Kim, the developer of “Car Locator.” Android Licenser aims to help developers of paid apps to both protect their apps from piracy and extend the availability of their apps to countries that don’t support the paid Android Market. The hope is that you are able to derive significantly greater profits from your existing apps (Edward increased his earnings on Car Locator by approximately 150%).
The simplest implementation of Android Licenser is to just submit your .apk file along with your Google Checkout merchant credentials and then they will set up a store front for you which will enable you to sell your app directly to users in any country that supports Google Checkout. At the moment over 150 countries support purchases through Google Checkout versus the newly increased total of 34 countries that support the paid Android Market. Beyond increasing your potential user base you also avoid the 70/30 revenue split of the Market in favor of the standard Google Checkout fees.
To take full advantage of Android Licenser you will need to add their licenser client library to your app. This is the piece of Android Licenser that offers you protection from piracy and guarantees that only legitimate buyers will be using your apps.
The first stage in this security is that buyers purchasing your app either through the Android Market or directly through Google Checkout will be issued an activation code by email that must be input within 24 hours of first using the app. Once they have entered the password the device is green lit on the server with a permanent license. Any time the app is started in the future it pings the licensing server to verify that it is an authorized device.
While this system is similar to that offered by Google it has two notable benefits; the first is that the activation code allows you to tie the app to a single device (in the event that the user purchases a new phone another code can be issued) and the second is that the licensing server works even when selling your app outside of the Android Market.
At $39.95 a month for a single application and $99.95 a month for unlimited applications Android Licenser isn’t exactly aimed at the new app developer (unless you’re sitting on the next Angry Birds), but rather at those that have a proven app and are looking to both grow beyond what the Market currently allows and also stop the inevitable piracy that occurs once an app becomes popular. If you don’t generate more cash with Android Licenser there is a 30 day money back guarantee which should help ease your mind a little.
The biggest threat to Android Licenser is likely to be Google themselves. They are taking steps to fill some of the holes that Android Licenser is currently plugging which means in the future it will have to iterate in some way to stay ahead of Google, but for now the gaps remain and obviously Android Licenser will always retain the advantage of providing sales outside of the Market.
To the developers out there would you consider trying this on your apps and if not what would give you pause about doing so?