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Android app makers can boost revenue with price cuts, promos

by Kristen Nicole

It’s tough being an Android developer these days. Not only do you have a variety of devices and OS versions to consider, but there’s also some 500,000 apps you’re competing with in the Android Market. You have to be creative, thinking of new marketing strategies and design implementations to launch an app that stands out. Discounted app prices, for instance, have shown to boost revenue, and this is particularly true for the Android Market. A recent study from Distimo shows Android apps reduced in price demonstrate better results over the long term than discounted iOS apps, with an increase in revenue of 29 percent.

Discounts don’t work for all Android apps, however. The Ditsimo report goes on to show that up to 50 percent of discounted apps saw a decline in revenue. Combining your price cut with other promotions, such as landing a spot in the Android Market’s featured apps list, will render the revenue-boosting results most developers are looking for.

Making money has been a long-standing problem for Android developers, seeing much smaller numbers than the iTunes App Store, which generates six times the revenue of the Android Market. The disparity is attributed to the Android Market’s open approach, where free apps reign and in-app purchases and advertising supplement direct sales.

Unification for Android app makers

Sure, the Android Market can be rough terrain for app makers to cut their teeth, but Google’s been rolling out several updates recently to better unify the developer (and ultimately the end user) experience. A few weeks ago Google opened the doors to an Android school, an online resource for developers. Earlier this month Google introduced Android Design in an effort to encourage app makers to better consider mobile interfaces, and also released the App Inventor as an open source platform. Google’s now taking things a step further by removing the Menu button, shifting its functions to the Action Bar it introduced with Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

In a blog post, Android’s developer team explains their decision to better use the Action Bar, hoping app makers can wrap their heads around the bar’s concept, and further, “action overflow.” Google wants developers to forget about the Menu button altogether, and better determine what actions they can incorporate into a mobile screen, and which truly need to be shifted to the Action Bar. It seems like a strange update, especially given Android’s point of differentiation from iOS around menu items that enable extensive interactivity within a given app. But rest assured, the functionality isn’t going away, and even devices running versions of Android older than 3.0 (which is the majority of Android devices), will still have access to these functions through the system/navigation bar.

From the Android Developers blog:

“This might seem like splitting hairs over terminology, but the name action overflow promotes a different way of thinking. Instead of thinking about a menu that serves as a catch-all for various user options, you should think more about which user options you want to display on the screen as actions. Those that don't need to be on the screen can overflow off the screen. Users can reveal the overflow and other options by touching an overflow button that appears alongside the on-screen action buttons.”