Edward Kim and his app, Car Locator, were big news back in March for netting nearly $13,000 in a month on the Android Market. At the time Edward wrote on his blog that he would “post again in a month or so with hopefully even better numbers!”
The update on his earnings never came as Edward’s income from Car Locator decreased rapidly after March when he was no longer listed as a Featured app in the Android Market (See the graph at the top of the post). Just a month after falling from the list Edward was back to earning $4,000 a month from his app. $4,000 a month for a single person working on an app isn’t exactly a slap in the face, but such a dramatic downturn in revenue after months of exposure on the Featured list definitely points to how quickly an app can get lost in the Market.
Naturally Edward was disappointed in the sudden decrease in profits and he decided that he was going to take action to correct the two main factors that he felt were holding back his earnings.
The first of those issues was piracy. Edward used Flurry analytics to track his total new users against the purchases made through the Android Market and found that roughly 4 times as many users were pirating his app rather than purchasing it. This issue has been echoed by many Android developers and is devastating to potential profits.
The second issue was tangentially related to the first and that was that the paid Android Market was only available in 14 countries which greatly limited the audience for his app. The solution for many of these users, unable to legitimately access the paid Market, is to turn to pirated copies of apps that they are interested in.
With these two main issues in mind Edward started looking into potential solutions and in July he first implemented the fruits of his labors, something which he refers to as “Android Licenser,” on Car Locator and lo and behold he saw his sales rise again for the first time since February.
Android Licenser adds an activation layer to Car Locator which provides a code upon purchase that must be input by the buyer within 24-hours and then permanently unlocks the app on that handset. This rendered the piracy issue obsolete and also substantially resolved the international availability problem as Edward was now able to sell the “locked” .apk directly to people via Google Checkout which is available in over 150 countries. With these direct Google Checkout purchases Edward takes 100% on the sale of the app rather than the 70% that is offered in the Market, but the vast majority of Edward’s sales are still coming through the Market.
In August Edward’s earnings were back up to $10,500 and while he didn’t have his final figures for September in time for this post they were on pace to finish higher still. Edward has his sights set on continuing the upward trajectory of his sales this time around with a goal of reaching $15,000 a month by the end of the year.
Ideally Edward should not have found it necessary to take it upon himself to secure his app from piracy and expand his sales beyond the Market, but that was the state of things and its hard to argue with his results.
It should be noted that Google is aware of and trending in the right direction on both of these issues as in late August they made a licensing service available which allows developers to determine the license status of users and just last week Google announced that the paid Market will be available in a total of 34 countries in the next two weeks.
While it hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys for Edward he is still excited about the promise of Android and his story is proof positive that there is money to be made here and with some refinements to the Market and new users and new countries coming quickly the opportunities are still expanding.
If you are interested in checking out Edward’s Android Licenser, we’ll be taking a closer look at it in an upcoming post, or you can find details on it at www.androidlicenser.com.