Since Rovio's Angry Birds franchise makes $100 million a year, it is worth looking at their mobile strategy, as it is quite revealing. On Android, Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons are all free apps supported by ads, while on iOS the same games all cost $0.99 to buy with no adverts, but with free limited versions available for people to try out. What does that tell us?
One thing it tells us is that iOS users are prepared to spend more money on apps than Android users. It also tells us that Rovio knows this and that is why it markets its apps differently on the two platforms. Is this because of iTunes? Is this because iOS users have more money? Is it because the Play Store doesn't have a good conversion rate? I think the answer was yes to all of those, but not any more.
According to App Annie, Google Play revenues have increased by 137 percent during the first seven months of this year, which means that Google is getting better at converting Android users into paying customers. Such leaps in revenue and conversion rates are good, not just for Google, but for customers and for app developers.
Firstly, of course Google benefits as it keeps a small percentage of each app sale. This money is used to support the Google eco-system and can also be used by Google to demonstrate that it can make money from Android.
It is also good for consumers as it means that the big app developers are more prepared to invest money in bringing the biggest titles to Android.
Finally, indie and small app developers benefit as they can monetize their apps via direct purchase rather than trying to rely on advertising models.
However there is a downside to the Play Store's continued success. First for consumers it can become harder to find relevant apps. As more and more apps are submitted the common keywords become super-saturated. Type a generic term like “platform game” into the Play Store search box and you will get at least 1,000 results. That is a big listing! Of course things like the star ratings, user comments and editors choice do help, but I am sure that there are some brilliant apps out there which have fallen into obscurity.
And this – app obscurity – is the second problem, this time for developers. On average, over 800 apps a day are released on Google Play. Do the math and that means three new apps every 5 minutes, 24 x 7. Therefore getting an app noticed can be hard for small developers.
It is always good to rate apps and add comments. But please, don't be mean and don't make comments asking for support, instead contact the developer directly.
As an app buyer or as a developer, what do you like / hate most about Google Play? Please leave a comment below.