I actually made my app free for testing purposes and had to create an entirely different app once I made it free.
In my experience with the Android app store, Google has no idea what they are doing.
Independent of this weird issue, I say this mostly because we sold literally 20x less of the exact same app on the Android market vs. the iPhone market (the apps were marketed the exact same way). This is in spite of the fact that the Android phone sales are apparently equal the number of iPhones phone sales...
Another one of my biggest gripes, while people are listening, is that you can not get a URL for your app for the Android store (or at least I don't know how). How are you suppose to sell anything on the web without a web address. We have a link to our iPhone app and for then Android app we need to give people a search term to enter into the Android app store! This is crazy to me!
Finally, and this is the last thing I promise, when you submit and app to the Android store you use a keystone to sign it. Well, I ended up losing my keystone (cause I'm an idiot), so I could never push an update of my app. So, I ended up needing to go through and literally refund 100 people's purchases (by hand) and create an entirely different app. This was actually the same app that I made free, so I literally have 3 versions of this app submitted to the Android App Store (but two are no longer public).
In this context, Steve Jobs personally responding to emails (apparently) is amazing positioning. Even if only to say "we disagree", it's a factor of infinity better than google.
Meanwhile, no one wants to go into the space that they take up for fear of getting gently and graciously crushed in marketshare, and no one wants that market after they've left it, for fear that "if Google can't make money on it, we can't either". For example, if it wasn't for FourSquare, location-based social SMS would've been dead after Dodgeball; no VC would've touched it after Google bought it and failed.
From what I understand, Android sales are currently similar to iPhone sales (in the US) in terms of phones being sold today, but there are a lot more iPhones already out there than Android phones (because the iPhone has been selling for longer I guess). Which means at the moment there are fewer people to buy Android apps. This also varies considerably from country to country -- for example, apparently Android sales are tiny in Australia compared to the iPhone.
This is not considering the potential difference in disposable income between purchasers of £45/month iphones and £15-20/month androids
Also, if you lose your Apple developer certificate, you can at least download a new one.
Christ, Google, an entire ecosystem of web sites exist that serve solely to provide a web interface and searching for your own marketplace. Bizarre.
iPhone users buy more apps.
Or you can make the link as a market intent so that android users who click on it, it will automatically launch the market app with the application in place.
Or wait till google release the web version of the android market rumored to be out this fall.
Android has a pretty high market share here in Norway, but we can only use free apps. I have no idea what's taking Google so long. Anyone know the percentage of Android phones that can actually buy apps?
This rule is so arbitrary and non-intuitive.
right, because apple's never been known for arbitrary and non-intuitive rules when it comes to their appstore...
I'm moving to IPhone development.
Edit: Here's how I got screwed. I put my app up as paid app for beta testing at first because testing the Google License Server required the app to be published as a paid app (that's another insensible thing). Within a hour someone made a purchase. I felt uncomfortable charging an app still under testing so I emailed the guy to ask him to revert the transaction within 24 hours. He said it's ok since he liked the app anyway. Then another guy emailed me asking why charging a beta app, which was a reasonable question since people can't download paid app without credit card info. I made my app free for beta testing, thinking that would make it easier for people to test.
Now, it looks like the app has to be withdrawn and republished as a new paid app. I feel bad for the guy who has paid for the app already. This really screws the developers and the customers.
Don't understand this policy in android.
Apple/itunes doesn't show the download count for apps. So switching an app from free to paid wouldn't cause any confusion. App-store rankings are based on downloads from the past three days. However, these rankings (and the last-3-days-counters) are reset when the app is changed from free to paid. The total number of downloads (since day 1 for the app) doesn't really matter.
My understanding is that Google wants to indicate the total download-count for apps. In this case, an app that changed from free to paid will have a misleading count. That is probably why Google doesn't let anyone change their free app to paid.
Now Google could obviously make things a bit more complex and use two separate counters (one for free and one for paid), but for now, it looks like they don't want to do that.
So I think I understand why developers can't change a free Android app to paid (and I also understand why some developers can find this annoying :).
Btw I didn't design the system and I'm not defending it. I just tried to explain why free Android apps can't be changed to paid.
Hostile to developer reasoning like this is why most devs I know stick to iPhone. Yeah, apple ain't perfect, but at least their reasons make some sense.
If that's the policy, then when you choose to make an app free it should be in your freaking face, clear as day. "Warning: if you make this app free, you will never be able to make it a paid app unless you submit it as a new app" would do the trick just fine...
Look at the way it's currently explained:
"3.3 You may also choose to distribute Products for free. If the
Product is free, you will not be charged a Transaction Fee. You may
not collect future charges from users for copies of the Products that
those users were initially allowed to download for free. This is not
intended to prevent distribution of free trial versions of the Product
with an "upsell" option to obtain the full version of the Product:
Such free trials for Products are encouraged. However, if you want to
collect fees after the free trial expires, you must collect all fees
for the full version of the Product through the Payment Processor on
the Market. In this Agreement, "free" means there are no charges or
fees of any kind for use of the Product. All fees received by
Developers for Products distributed via the Market must be processed
by the Market's Payment Processor."
Maybe I'm just stupid, but when I read that, I certainly don't think that "once free, always free" is the message there.
If you go from free to paid (or vice versa), your ranking is reset. They're different charts.
1) Developers will game the system. They give apps away for free to get good reviews and higher ratings. I am more generous on a free app than a paid app.
2) You are baiting users to get your app for free initially and then making them pay for the upgrades.
There are a number of websites/apps with lots of users who look for free apps to try out, and rely on this method to try out some really good stuff.
I see nothing wrong with this, you are giving users something for free that is normally not, and a great way to get new people to try your app. A very valid and welcome marketing technique.
Then you're the minority. Free applications are tried by more, price is a gate, and on Apple's AppStore free applications are consistently lower-rated than paid ones.
> You are baiting users to get your app for free initially and then making them pay for the upgrades.
You have no idea what you're talking about do you? I've yet to see a single paid upgrade, if that's even possible, apart from a "v1" to a "v2" which is paid for by everybody (including those who bought v1)
If this wasn't a good idea, or was considered gaming the system, I'm pretty sure the FAAD (http://freeappaday.com/) for iPhone wouldn't be as popular as it is right now. People love FAAD.
Other than that amazing tech. The app download process was pretty painless after the google account was created.
I can see why the 'free to paid' switch would require a new application ID, after all people would feel tricked if they sent the name of the app to their friends on recommendation only to find that the one your friend downloaded for free is now suddenly a paid app.
You will find out, when you will have a new phone and log in with the same account - the market will know which apps you bought or downloaded in the past and will set up them on your new phone.
1. Google Market requires account. You needed Market to download the updates to Google Maps.
2. Google Maps itself does not require google account. It will work with one, if available (for Lattitude), but for navigation, it is not required. If you have invalid credentials, for example, it will give you info "Login failed" and that's it.
Yes, I understand, that when it was downloading updates from Market as a first thing after turning on, it is not something pleasant. However, that's what users want, they want their system as updated as possible and Google obliged (see also flames here, on HN, how Google does not care and does not force the vendors to provide current Android releases. Removing apps from OS release cycle and updating them independently is a part of sidestepping the vendors/carriers).
Sending and receiving internet mail have nothing to do with being able to use a navigational package, not matter what 'google market requires', if maps are free and the app is free then I don't need an account.
> Yes, I understand, that when it was downloading updates from Market as a first thing after turning on, it is not something pleasant.
It's simply wrong. I need an account of some sort at the moment that I download a paid product, not before then.
I know the market is set up in such a way that that is not the case, but it is my opinion, not a fact, as a customer that to require registration of an email account with an email provider which I do not intend to use in order to download basic functionality on to a device I have just bought from an unrelated provider is a process that is not 'unpleasant' but broken.
> However, that's what users want,
Not this one.
> as updated as possible and Google obliged
It could easily do that by just downloading a bunch of stuff from a repository a-la apt-get without requiring registration of anything whatsoever.
I really don't understand why your 'that's the way it works' view tramples my 'it doesn't have to work that way' view, I really couldn't care less how it works, even if it does work that way, it is a negative experience and you try to avoid those in people using your products.
I would LOVE just a few things in the Android Market:
1) To be able to give away a free license of a paid app to someone somehow. As a gift.
2) More than 325 characters to describe an app.
3) More than 2 screenshots.
You... can't do that? Ever? Don't you get like 50 free licenses for each AppStore update?
Can you at least gift applications on the Market?
I can't believe this. Customers would essentially be paying some percentage of the app cost and getting nothing in return if they obtained a partial refund. That's just wrong.
My biggest frustration is definitely the huge amount of "Payment Declined" orders that come through. Then I get emails a day or two later from someone ticked that their app never downloaded AND they think they were charged.
Google emails them that the app didn't download and they need to update their payment info in Google Checkout, but I think that most people just have Gmail accounts setup so their phone will work but they never actually check those gmail accounts where these non-payment notifications are sent. Then they're left wondering why their purchased apps don't download.
A simple email to both the gmail account AND the user's primary email address would at least help solve this problem.
EDIT: I'd like to add that in the few short hours I've been working this evening and following this thread here and there, I've received 4 payment declined orders for our apps. It's like watching money blow out the window.
For example, if you release a free iPhone application, and it gets downloaded a million times, with 50000 reviews, and then you make it cost $0.99, won't people think the app is some amazing app that millions of people have bought, so then you're more likely to buy it? There's no true indication that the app was free initially, so you don't really know.
While we're requesting Android enhancements - how about we let the developer select the return policy. 24 hour return works great for utilities and day-to-day apps, but is really hurting the cheap game market.
The 2-3 independent appstore websites also have ghastly designs.