Developing Mobile Applications for the Android Market Compared to the Apple App Store

Applications

Recently Mika Mobile, the makers of Battleheart, one of my favorite games for the iPad, ported the game to the Android platform.  The game allows you to be the commander of an army of knights, sorcerers, and magicians to wage a fantasy war against evil creatures. It is very addictive.  As of June 25, 2011 it has got an average of 4.5 out of 5 starts from 4117 ratings on the Apple App Store.

To see how this game performs on Android compared to iOS from an end users point of view, I bought Battleheart from the Android market and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab.  For comparison, I played Battleheart side by side on my iPad 2 (iOS v4.3.3) and Samsung Galaxy Tab (Android 3.0.1 – Honeycomb).  The game was identical in every way on both devices: from the graphics to the game play, to the speed to the music.  In fact, if not for the slight physical differences between the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab, I would not have been able to tell whether I was playing the game on Android or iOS.  Even the price of the game is the same in both platforms ($2.99).

So, what was the developer’s experience selling this app on the Android Market compared to the Apple App Store?

Mika Mobile published a blog post addressing this topic, and of course, there were both good and bad aspects.

Upsides of the Android Market

According to Mika Mobile, one of the good points about selling the app on the Android Market is that it is very easy to update the app.   If a customer complains about a bug and you want to fix it and roll out the new version fast, you can do this with no restriction on the Android Market.  This is not the case on the Apple App Store.  Each update to the app has to go through an approval process.  My recent experience has been that this takes about 10 business days.

Mika Mobile is satisfied with the revenue that it is generating from the Android Market.  There is a notion that Android users are cheap and are not willing to pay for apps compared to iOS users.  Well, what is happening is that there are not enough high quality apps on the Android market that deserve high fees.  In fact, there is a hunger among Android fans for good high quality apps and Android users are not hesitant to pay as long as they are paying for a high quality app.

Downsides of the Android Market

Mika Mobile mentions that although Battleheart is currently ranked high (top 50 apps) on the Android Market and does not rank high on the Apple App Store (not even in the top 200 games) the revenue it gets from the Android market is about 80% of what it gets from the Apple App Store.  So the size of the Apple App Store is significantly larger than the Android Market.

The Android Market still has to catch up with the Apple App Store for ease of downloading and installing applications.  According to Mika Mobile, they get a large volume of support e-mails related to downloading and installing their application from the Android Market.  Most of these issues are due to different flavors of the Android operating system and hardware and not directly because of Battleheart.

Another downside of the Android market is that the developer has to work with Google Checkout to get payment and handle customer refunds.  In the Apple App Store, Apple handles these refunds.

So what’s the conclusion?

This is a good time to develop high quality applications for the Android market as there is not much competition and Android users are willing to pay for high quality apps.  However, you will have to deal with some support issues on the Android market that you do not have to deal with if you are publishing your apps on the Apple App Store and the reach of the Android Market is still lagging the Apple App Store.

Have you had experiences on the Android Market or Apple App Store that support or go against this experience? Please share in the comments.

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