Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Experiences with the Android Market

I finally released WakeMe@ on the Android Market on 2nd August. I'm pretty happy with the state of it at the moment: everything works (as far as I can see). At least it does now, after two rapid updates. There are plenty more features that I want to add, but that's pretty much always the case with any software development. So now I get to discuss what it's like actually having an item on the market.
It costs $25 to be a publisher on the market: the reasoning given is to stop the market filling up with crapware. The problem that the market has with crap, though, is of single people releasing hundreds of tiny "soundboard" or similar apps from which they actually make substantial amounts of money, so having to pay $25 won't stop them. I guess, having said that, the fee is in place: maybe the market would be in a considerably worse state if it wasn't.
My ponderings about monetization really come to the fore now. Atm the app is free. Current plan is to do it the same as Gina Trapani does with her Todo.txt app: charge a small amount on the market, but have it downloadable for free on github. But only when / if it takes off at all: with less than 50 downloads atm, it's not worth it. I believe that anyone who downloads it now, free, will be able to update free forever.
The Google Developer Console is quite good. It doesn't update as often as some people would like, maybe twice daily, but that's fine for me. Indeed, it stops me checking it way more often than I should. It gives quite a lot of statistical analysis, and makes uploading and managing the apps reasonably straightforward.
There is something that is a bit of a pain, but it requires a little background. Every app on the Android Market must be signed by a key unique to the author, to avoid forgeries. This is fine, but the Google Maps API also requires a key that is generated from the same key as the app's key. The shuffling of keys at release time is a little tiresome.
But all in all, the process was fairly painless. Interestingly, only a few days after I released the app on the market, someone has forked my source repository on github: I'm presuming this isn't a coincidence, and that they got the url from the Market page. But that's what social coding and open-source is all about! If someone else can get the information they need from my source, then I'm glad I decided to go the open-source route.

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