Why is the iPhone so popular with developers? One word: money. The App Store is a developer's lottery ticket. All it takes is the right app at the right time and fortune can be yours.

The widely-publicized stories of developers who struck it rich with iPhone apps arguably did more for iPhone development in the early days than any developer-oriented sales pitch from Apple or Steve Jobs. It has been somewhat difficult, however, to find the same sort of stories about developers who struck it rich with Android apps.

Until now.

Meet Edward Kim. He won third place in the Android Developer Challenge 2 last year. But that's not his claim to fame. His claim to fame is the fact that his Car Locator Android app, which remembers where a user's car has been parked, is now generating $13,000/month in sales through the Android Marketplace. As you might have guessed, Kim is "on cloud 9 with these numbers". As he should be.

While Car Locator's sales figures might not impress an App Store millionaire, Kim's story is sparking the same sort of buzz that became familiar when the App Store was starting to take off. That can mean only one thing: the Android gold rush is upon us.

For his part, Kim is trying to be realistic. He writes:

Sales of about $13k/month is awesome income for any one person, so it may sound ridiculous for me to think it can go even higher.

But he's also optimistic about the future:

However, I still think that Android is only a fraction of what it will eventually become. Each release of a new Android handset gets me excited, as it means a wider reach for the Marketplace.

Needless to say, the fact that Kim is making $13,000/month from a single Android app is as good a reason as any to believe that Android does indeed have a bright future as a developer platform. But as with any gold rush, not everyone will cash in. Not only will increased competition make it more difficult for newcomers to find success, the Android Marketplace presents some unique challenges:

  • App purchasing in the Android Marketplace is done with Google Checkout, which many believe has hindered the popularity of paid apps.
  • Unlike the App Store, Google doesn't approve apps that are submitted to Android Marketplace. While this laissez-faire approach may be appealing to any developer whose iPhone app was rejected by Apple, it also means that there's room for far more clutter and competition.
  • Demographically-speaking, Android users aren't iPhone users. Specifically, Android users don't shell out for paid apps at nearly the rate of iPhone users. That means that developers have to be strategic about the apps they build, and the business models they employ. What works in the App Store may not work in the Android Marketplace, and vice-versa.

At the end of the day, Kim's success with Car Locator is proof that 'there's gold in them thar hills'. But just as with any gold rush, your chances of striking gold increase when you pick the right location and adopt a sensible strategy.

Photo credit: whatleydude via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 4 March, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2642 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Good point, Patricio. I think you've caught Google at the tipping point. It's been about the last two months I've been more annoyed by the results than pleased. Deciphering the page now requires careful navigation. Non-intuitive.

Really it would be better to have separate tabs/links as in days of yore. News, images, videos, blogs.

over 8 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

I'm very sorry Patricio but I commented on the correct article after logging in and it ended up credited to the wrong article. Please delete the comment above.

I'm a Mac user but I won't go anywhere near the locked garden of the iPhone. I own a Nokia N97 Mini (Symbian) and looked carefully at Android before the leap (I like the tactile keyboard on my N97 Mini more than any other phone and I'm a writing sort). Frankly, most apps just require a decent web browser. We're building a web app now and we'll make it work right with all three (iPhone, Symbian, Android) and all the subcategories of phone.

For real apps, give me a proper laptop and real screen. These telephones are time and money (time more important) into a great drainhole. I learned my lesson with Palm Pilots (corrupt syncs taking half a day to put humpty dumpty's contact back together again).

over 8 years ago


Android Gold - Android Blog

I think the Android gold rush could go much further than just Google's self-run app store, as there is a silent storm brewing in third world-countries to develop both phones and perhaps more interestingly, Android tablets, using cheap off-the-shelf hardware that finally has a worth OS to make it dance. Apple's been making iPhones and iPads for $75-90 apiece and selling them for 5 times the production cost because they hold an iron tight grip on the OS, the marketplace, and the right to sell hardware. I for one, am more than willing to accept a slight degree of risk in terms of quality of products and apps in order to open the floodgates to the tremendous opportunities presented by Android. And it certainly opens the doors for businesses who want to make custom tablet or smartphones for specific business purposes to explore manufacturing their own Android based devices - something that would carry somewhat of a risk do to so for Apple (imagine creating such an app and then having them deny you from the app store... how could you get the app on you device without jail-breaking it?) - AndroidGold

almost 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.