Paid vs Free Apps, another one bites the dust?

Have you ever wondered whether you should go the paid or the free route in the journey of your Android apps? Have you ever thought of the various models available for us in monetizing our apps? Which route have you chosen?

A new dawn.. err.. week!

Hi folks, it is a wonderful Monday, the weekend was great! A quick recap before I hit the main story:

It looked like Leadbolt has some major ad campaign going on, and has given some awesome boost to the revenue. It was slow a little earlier in the week. I was having a chat with another fellow developer, and he reminded me that my "bad" day is equals to his "good" WEEK! Ahh, getting things back into perspective, I guess I am just thankful for what I have.

The advertising revenue from Airpush and Admob has been steady flow through out. So, if you have not started using a CPA model in your apps, do give Leadbolt a try.

Back to the story.

A developer of a couple of very famous games on the Android market recently announced that he is stopping support for the Android platform. Mika Mobile has a couple of really good games in the market, maybe even pioneering the game type that he has made (or at least making it famous on the platform).

What happened? Here is the story.

Zombies ate the Paid Model!

You will see, it gets real tough when you have a paid app model. When someone is paying you, you need to make sure that they are getting what they pay for. You are obligated to provide support for the app as someone has invested in you. I think what Mika is doing is really awesome. He is truly trying to meet his user's expectations. But that is where his breakdown lies in.

In the Android ecosystem, the devices vary in every think-able spec. It is really difficult for you to actually provide a perfect support for all devices.

This brings to my point of making simple apps. I always focus on the simple apps and games. I know my time investment wont go to much waste this way. Hey, we all only have 24 hours in a day! I mainly make sure my app will run on the most common device specs, and that's it. Hey my apps are free, and it they don't run well on someone's device, I guess there will be no loss to both parties. Next please!

Complexion of the Complexities!

In making his apps complex, he also has increased the app's size. This has caused much problem for him in preparing the necessary downloads. Granted Android Market (or Play nonsense) now supports a bigger app size, and allows further 2 additional downloads up to 4 gigs, the internal memory of the device seems to play a role anyway. If only we can uninstall all the default apps without requiring to root our devices.

Keep your apps simple, and small (a new meaning to KISS - keep it simple, small). There are many users out there that just need the simple stuff. Especially if you are a 1 man show. Why make it so complex (he also maintains iOS version of his games).

The cheapskate Androiders!

Android users like free stuff. Me too! Honestly, I have NEVER bought any app on the Android Market. There is always a free alternative available (super cheapskate me). I am totally fine with ads with my apps too!

Understand the Android ecosystem. That is why Angry Birds is so successful on the Android platform. If you want to go the paid-model route, look at In-App purchase. I think Mika could have done a whole lot better of he had made his apps free, with IAP to get the really cool weapons.

2012 - Free and Freemium Year!

This 2012, free and freemium model will be the way to go with the Android platform. You are not going to see the trend of getting free apps change on Android. Not for this year, and I doubt it will for the next year too. Free ad-supported apps will be the best way to go, especially with the number of ad companies growing like wild mushrooms, and the ad-spend of companies shifting more to the mobile platform.

If you are in one of them "lucky" countries which has support for IAP, try that. It might just make it too. I have not invested in this model as I am not able to sell apps yet, so I cant really give you an advice on it.

So, what is your take on it? Are you going the Paid way? How's it treating you?

Do not make similar assumptions on all fronts when it comes to the Apple's app store against the Android's playground!



  1. In a direct response to the Mika blog.... it's only a couple observations. It could be the case that they got lucky on iOS vs Android. In another universe the tables could be the other way around. But at very least, the approach on Android just wasn't working as well for them.

    But he also didn't make clear that they were loosing money. Even at 5% revenue, and 20% cost. that could still make for high absolute profits. Even more if they tweaked the monetisation like you said.

  2. Hi Pig,

    Yeah, luck plays a lot in any of the markets, and yes they could have been lucky in iOS.

    And true that they don't give out exact details, maybe the profits just isn't worth the effort he is putting in.


  3. I agree completely. Unfortunately, from the success of iOS appstore, people expect to get mobile games for free or next to free. In, reality it doesn't make sense, if you spend the same amount of time making the same game for the PC and mobile, you should be able to charge the same.
    But, now we are in a world where the new generations expect something for nothing. So, for a one man team to be successful with a successful paid app, as you said, would require too much time, in development and support, unless they got lucky with some unique design. Thank god for ads!


  4. Bad business model, paid applications can be found within milliseconds after putting on the market, all over the internet. Android is a few years old, and Google has not done anything to prevent piracy so it is completely absurd to expect profits from the sales.

  5. Hi Sion,

    You're right... iOS and Android are 2 completely different beasts!

    Hi Bojan,

    The Android market really does need much more improvement. I agree with you.

    Lesson: Look at the ad model instead!



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