Android Apps—a Growing Market

Want to know if your Android application customer demographic has changed since Verizon’s launch of the DROID? Just look at your app’s comments on the Marketplace. Over the past few weeks, the language has dramatically changed from a constructive comment like “great app but needs some work” to a more aggressive one like ‘”this app sucks—my phone keeps on crashing” without any diagnostic aid. While this hurts the developer’s sales, it shows that the user market has changed and expanded.

When the first Android phone emerged—the T-Mobile G1—the early adopters jumped on it. These consumers, the first users exposed to the problems common to early-stage product deployment, were tech-savvy. They were compassionate with developers’ struggles in a young market and patient with the crashes, bugs, and error messages. These people mostly had an understanding of the programming behind the apps. They acknowledged that as the new Android phones hit the market, the apps would have to adapt with them.

Unlike other popular smart phones, the Android operating system has been deployed in at least 10 different devices and carried by at least 5 service providers internationally. Each device has different parameters for certain features and, on top of that, the Android OS keeps being updated creating a constant stream of programming demands. Unfortunately, the consumer doesn’t always understand this. They’ve been trained to assume that each app that arrives in the Marketplace has been tested on every device and the latest OS before being made available on the market. That’s not how Android works.

On a positive note, the new wave of consumers suggests that the product is being adopted by the early majority. While early adopters tend to perceive risks in a positive way, early majority undoubtedly perceive risks as negative, hence comments like “don’t even bother downloading the app—it crashes my phone” which, in fact, is a device error.

What we can take away from this is that the Android developers are going through a maturity stage where they have to learn how to manage their consumers. They will need to help educate their users through blogs, increase their customer service by reaching out to the unsatisfied customers, and connect with the trendsetters who often aid in the awareness of the products.

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iPhone vs. Android Apps

I’m a Mac but I bought an Android. Although I’ve been a dedicated Macintosh computer user for the last 15 years or so, I was hesitant to purchase an iPhone. Mostly, it was due to the service cost per month. The other reason was I was skeptical of its usability as an internet device. Apple is a company well known and respected for quality control and consistency between its products. Unfortunately, the internet is not a place for that. There’s a lot of chaos out there. Google, on the other hand, is the internet and has built a wealth of online tools that integrate with the internet, not a personal computer. So, even though I work on a Mac around the clock, I use Google to store my contacts, calendar, instant messages, and some documents. This is why I was sold on the Android when it was released.

Developing applications to work on these two leading mobile devices is split between two programming languages – java and cocoa. One is more widely used than the other, but the lesser is still building more apps. This is due to market demand. The iPhone has a larger user base than the Android, but it has also been around longer. With a new operating system known as Cupcake and a new version of the mobile device currently in the developer’s hands, it is possible the Android will be catching up soon.

Despite the large user group on the iPhone, Android users tend to keep their apps longer and use them more. This is reportedly due to the amount of apps available to each – more apps means greater opportunity to pick and choose. Fewer apps lead to tolerance of what needs to be improved and working around its faults.

But wait, if Java is a well know programming language and there is demand for more apps on the second most popular mobile device, why isn’t anyone cashing in? They are. Some Android developers are pulling over $25k per month on one little app. They aren’t as seamless as the iPhone apps (coca touch has a beautiful interface) but they sure don’t have the same level of competition.

So, if you want your company to reach its audience through a mobile device and possibly make some money from it, consider the Android. It’s more likely that you will get attention from your target market and connect with your audience before your competitors do and java programmers may be more affordable that specialized cocoa programmers.

More on Android vs. iPhone apps.

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UPDATE: Around 1:30am on Wednesday July 8th, my husband launched his first Android app called Pic Paint. Within 6 hours of its release, 350 users had downloaded the app and left feedback. The number doubled a few hours later. Check out the stats here http://www.cyrket.com/asset/-4624803818843473487. If you have an Android, download the app, try it out, and leave some comments. Hope you like the app’s icon….