Monday, December 28, 2009

Where's My Boom?

According to this article:

The iPod touch is Apple's not-so-secret weapon when it comes to the App Store, especially come Christmas. This year was no exception, according to stats released by Flurry.

The company says that over Christmas, downloads from iPod touches 'eclipsed' iPhone downloads by 172% - and that downloads from third-generation iPod touches jumped by 900% on Christmas Day itself, compared to the average of previous Fridays in December.

Meanwhile, Flurry says December was a record-breaking month for the App Store, with downloads increasing by more than 50% compared to November based on average daily download figures.

The company also tracked Android Market over Christmas, revealing that downloads from the Motorola Droid jumped 93% on Christmas Day compared to previous Fridays in December.

This is a little weird, because I actually expected a bump on Christmas, and didn't get one. I saw a weird spike on Dec. 19-21, with the 21st being my best day of the month by far. But then revenue dropped back down to normal levels, and Christmas Day was actually the 5th lowest day of the month.

Now, the article doesn't break down paid vs. free app downloads, which is pretty important. I was hoping for a spike on or following Christmas, and haven't seen one yet. Not sure why, if these stats are to be believed. Maybe when people first get their phones, they're reluctant to immediately buy apps or click on in-game ads.

Ah well...revenue is still good. It's just not increasing quite yet. Maybe I'll see a climb over the next week or two. Dominoes has spent some time at over the past week, but is currently #2. And Golf Solitaire has dropped out of the top 5 to #7.

I'm hoping to get Puzzle Lords, the revamped version of Relativia, released this week. Hopefully it will be better received than it's predecessor.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2 Back in the Top 5

Last month I had two games ranked in the top 5 in their paid category, Golf Solitaire at #3 and Dominoes at #5. For a while, Golf Solitaire had fallen out of the top 5, but yesterday it wedged its way back, so that I once again have two apps in the top 5, Dominoes at #2 and GS at #5.

For those of you curious about what kind of numbers it takes to make/maintain those rankings, Dominoes has sold an average of 33.75 units/day for December, while Golf Solitaire has sold an average of 7.65/day for the same period.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yes, You Can Make Money as an Indie Android Developer

For the past three months, my income from Android development has produced a livable wage. And the good news is that it keeps increasing month over month.

The past three days I've seen a very nice jump in the payment rate for my ads, which has generated my first three +$100 days in ads alone. Sales on top of that are putting me close to $200/day. I don't think there are too many indie app/game developers who wouldn't be happy with that revenue stream.

There are periodic dips in usage and sales day-by-day, but the week-by-week trend is sustained growth. I would expect some kind of bump from Christmas this week, though I honestly have no idea how many people gift smartphones (buy your loved ones an Android phone!). Hopefully tons of new users will activate their shiny new phones Christmas morning and take a virtual visit to the Android Market to buy a bunch of new apps.

I would love to hear reports from other Android devs. A few months ago it was mostly doom and gloom, but if I'm seeing this kind of growth, and none of my games are even ranked in the top 50 overall, then there have to be others who are making some respectable revenue.

I'm not dying to have a ton of new competitors, but in general I would like to see more devs come to the platform. The growth of the market is an indication that that's already happening. I think an increase in both the quantity and the quality of apps will in general be good for everyone, users and devs alike. And I'd like to hear more success stories...I know they're out there.

Friday, December 18, 2009

mid-December Recap

Revenue has not continued to rise from the end of November, but remains steadily in the $120-150/day range, which is just fine by me. I know of no way to track the number of sales through T-Mobile's new carrier billing system, so I have no way of knowing its effect. So far I haven't seen any kind of bump in sales. Dominoes remains at #2 and Golf Solitaire had spent most of the last two weeks at #8, with a little time at #7. But this morning it had bumped up to #6. For a couple of days in the last two weeks, the app rankings have been screwed up, showing double entries for some lower ranked apps and pushing the real top-ranked apps off the top. I don't know how many users are affected, but that can't help sales when it happens

Google, in partnership with carriers, is constantly working on revisions to the market, so I suppose glitches now and then are expected. I've never noticed being bumped more than 24 hours, so that's something. The carrier billing on T-Mobile is supposed to keep rolling out until the end of the month. And of course Christmas is just around the corner. So I'm actually expecting an increase in revenue, at least in the last week of December, but we'll see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Carrier Billing Launches on T-Mobile

Apparently T-Mobile has begun soft launching the ability for users to charge paid apps directly to their monthly bill, rather than entering a credit card through Google Checkout. Users will begin seeing the option when they click the Buy button for apps, and the rollout will be staggered across their user base through Dec. 30, so by then everyone with an Android phone on T-Mobile should have the functionality.

I'm not sure why they did it in such a stealthy way. Users that may want to bill apps directly to their T-Mobile bill might not even be aware they have that capability now, unless they try to buy an app. And if they previously had a credit card rejected, they may not even try. And I just posted a question in the T-Mobile developer forums about how devs will be affected. I don't know if such transactions will also show up in our Google Checkout sales interface. If so, that's great. If not, where are we supposed to track such sales? In Google Checkout we had to manually set up sales tax for valid states. Is T-Mobile handling that now? Is there some transparent interface between T-Mobile and Google Checkout? It would be nice to know such things. It would also be nice to be able to track how many sales are a result of carrier billing vs. credit card.

Anyway, revenue so far in December has fluctuated between $120/day and $150/day, which is great. I wondered if revenue would continue to climb, but it seems to have settled somewhat in that range for now.

Dominoes is holding tight at #2 and Golf Solitaire has traded the #7 and #8 slots with Euchre all week, but is currently sitting at #8. InfusionCalc is sliding down the ranks for paid Health apps, but it continues to sell about the same amount. I released an update for Dominoes to be compatible with QVGA devices, such as the HTC Tattoo. I have no idea whether it's actually showing up on the market for folks with a Tattoo...if you have one or know somebody with one, let me know if you can see Dominoes in the market, please.

It would be great to have a tool that allows you to get a live preview of the market from the perspective of a particular hardware/carrier configuration, but I'll just add that to the list of nice-to-haves. I could embed analytics into Dominoes to see what devices people are running it on, but that would require adding internet permissions, which might adversely affect sales for an app that has no obvious need to connect to the internet.

Anyway, the European version of the Droid, the Milestone, apparently is selling incredibly well. One online retailer reports completely selling out of stock in less than 24 hours. And Time magazine just named the Droid as the gadget of the year, so hopefully they'll continue to see strong sales through the holiday season and into 2010. I'm certainly not complaining, but I sure wouldn't mind if the numbers kept rising.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Droid, Early Impressions

I got my Droid yesterday and was able to activate it month-to-month through Verizon over the phone. I've had it for less than 24 hours, but here are some early impressions:

--This thing is fast. I don't know a whole lot about processors, but the speed must be less dependent on the actual number and more on other factors, because I don't think the listed speed of the Droid is significantly higher than the G1, but there is a pretty huge difference in performance. I click an icon to open an app and it opens almost instantly. I didn't realize how slow screen transitions were on the I do.

--The network is strong. I'm getting 4 solid bars of 3G goodness at home. With TMobile I normally got 2 bars at home, and that's what I was getting yesterday, even with the upgrade to 3G.

--The hardware keyboard...I like it. The one thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have room to give numbers their own dedicated keys, so they're ALTs on the upper row of letters. This is a bit annoying if you're entering in numeric or alphanumeric info, but I can live with it.

--I kind of miss my trackball, and to use the D-pad on the Droid you have to slid open the keyboard, so for basic menu navigation you need to use the touchscreen. Luckily the screen feels even more accurate and responsive than my G1. I still kind of miss my trackball.

--Android 2.0 is very nice. There are already a few little touches that make the experience better. The screen auto-orients to landscape or portrait depending on how you are holding the phone...this is nice. When you're on a phone call, if you take the phone away from your ear (e.g. to enter in a number) the screen becomes active. My G1 didn't do had to press the menu button and then pull up the dialpad to enter a number...annoying.

So far in terms of usability, speed, and functionality this thing is 3 steps up from the G1. Looks like it was a worthwhile upgrade, but I'm glad I'm month-to-month, because it wouldn't surprise me if in 6-9 months there's a shiny new phone I'd be interested in switching to. But so far I'm extremely happy with the Droid.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Recap...Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Droid

Android as a mobile OS is finally starting to take off. It's now on at least 2 phones on every major carrier except ATT, and the monster is the Droid. Initial reports indicated that Verizon/Motorola had sold 100K in the first weekend, 250K the first week, and estimated 600K by the end of the year. But new reports indicate those stats were lowballed, and that the Droid has actually sold between 700-800K already and will easily top 1M by the end of the year. Verizon apparently launched a $100M marketing campaign and it looks like it's paying off.

What does this mean for devs? Reports were that revenue from games jumped 53% from September to October. I haven't seen any numbers for November yet, but I'd be surprised if they didn't increase at least another 50%.

Personally, I saw an 80% increase from October to November, mostly on strong sales of Dominoes, but also on a boost from ad revenue. Here's a chart of daily revenue:

Notice the trend, as well. I expect another increase in December...possibly not as large as the one from Oct->Nov, but still an increase. But who knows? Either way I'm enjoying the ride.

Hopefully this means I won't have to worry about departmental funding for graduate school next year. Even if the numbers plateaued, that would still be a decent income for a single-person household. But I still plan on releasing new apps, so we'll see how high we can go and how long it will last.

I Finally Get 3G on TMobile in My Area...The Day I'm Cancelling Service

So I've had my trusty G1 for about 9 months now, and I had signed up on a month-to-month plan. Service has been reliable, over-the-air updates to Android prompt and clean, but I've never gotten 3G coverage while in Lafayette, which is where I live and obviously spend most of my time. When visiting other cities, like Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, or Boston, I'd seen the little 3G symbol appear, but it was nothing but Edge here at home.

But I wake up this morning and look at my phone, and what do I see? The little 3G symbol! I had talked to a TMobile rep a couple of weeks ago and he had said that Lafayette was supposed to get 3G by the end of the month. Guess he was right.

Unfortunately, I just ordered a Droid from Amazon and it's coming today. I plan to switch to Verizon on a month-to-month basis and see how things go. I liked TMobile, though. If I'm not happy with Verizon, I know I'll have a decent place to go back to.