Thursday, 23 October 2008

Dealing with the Android Market

With the G1 now available, everyone is waiting for the Android Market to come online.

Google has taken the decision to only allow free applications onto the market until some time early in 2009, which has clearly pissed off some developers who had hoped to be able to charge from day one. I am not surprised by this decision. While there might be reasons of simply not getting the payment system ready (which should have been not too difficult for Google), I assume the main reason is that it is quite easy to get lots of bad publicity if you have crappy paid-for applications in the official market. While these applications are third-party, Google would take part of the blame. With free, free as in beer, stuff that is not likely to be the case as long as no application can do any damage.

Anyway, the reason I am mentioning this is that developers have now to decide what to do with their applications. They have the following options:
  1. Give away for free what they wanted to charge for. Bad idea, I think. Not because of the bad vibes that it will create later, but mainly because it gives competitors some three months to do it better.
  2. Just wait. Maybe not such a bad idea. One can see how it all shapes up, but one might lose momentum against others. Of the 10,000 or so developers at least one will have had a similar idea and they will occupy the high spot.
  3. Give away a 'beta' or cut-down version for now, with an upgrade later to a fully functional version. Possibly my choice - in combination with 2). It means not losing out on interest and also getting valuable feed-back.
Now how to do such a beta. 
  1. Time-limit the application: bound to piss people off, but not bad if one really has a valuable application.
  2. Tempt people to pay with better functionality. Of course one does not really know right now what that might be, so I decided to put a WebView into my application, so that I can change the details of what is available and also take a user then to whereever I decide to sell my app.
I embed a download link to the upgraded up, so that it would install on the emulator, but that hit a snag. For those who are not in the US and are thus pretty much unable to get a G1, the emulator unfortunately poses an unsurmountable restriction for installing apps from the web directly onto the emulator, as it is locked to only accept apps from the official store and the settings module is not compiled in. Here you can read more.

There is also a site with deals with embedding licensing information in the app:

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