The guys over at technmarketing.com posted an interesting intervies with Peter Verterbacka, the main man behind Angry birds and I think there’s a lot that Google should take out of that interview. Read past the break for my analysis of what he’s trying to get at.
I think you're all too familiar with Angry Birds by now but what you might not be aware of is that they have over 50 million downloads, over 15 of which on Android alone. Not bad for a game released merely a year ago. The other important thing to know is that Verterbacka has often criticized the Android development platform and rightly so. Here's some snippets of what he said:
“Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right. And they know what they are doing and they call the shots. Android is growing, but it’s also growing complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.”
I, too, agree that device fragmentation has, isn't and won't be a real issue ever. Button placement and hardware/software differences don't really affect apps that are well built. However, the greed behind various parties' desire to create separate markets """to give users a better tailored experience""" (not a quote, but a summary of the BS they're using to sell the idea) is the true problem. Googles Android market already doesn't have the exposure that the iOS market has in terms of countries that have access to paid apps, and forcing devs to submit apps to a zillion different markets with different requirements as to descriptions and what-not is utterly ridiculous. Also, having carriers aggressively moving into market territory possibly restricting entry of certain apps isn't of much help either. Dear carriers, keep your hands off our Android!
“Free is the way to go with Android. Nobody has been successful selling content on Android. We will offer a way to remove the ads by paying for the app, but we don’t expect that to be a huge revenue stream."
Also, unfortunately true. While I'm as happy as the next guy that more apps are free on Android than any other platform (see yesterdays post for more on that), it isn't really a good model for attracting devs and applications that would only run on Android - say, if they rely on Flash or Air support. The reason for which paid content doesn't work isn't related to the user base of Android. While there are a lot more low-end handsets running Android, I don't think Android users in general are more reluctant in paying for apps. What they are reluctant on is using Googles Checkout system, which sometimes fails anyway. Google may be a household name in Search and other fields, but online payment systems is not one of those. Another issue might be the fact that early last year Google matched the percentage that Apple charges devs on app sales (30% to be specific), not a smart move IMHO. Considering the limited user base devs have access to, further cutting possible revenue might be a deterrent for devs to move in.
“Nobody else will be able to build what Apple has built, there just isn’t that kind of market power out there.”
Here's where I disagree with Verterbacka. Maybe right now there isn't that market power because of the limited user base that have access to paid apps, but the number of handset activations for Android already surpassed iOS and the gap in number of apps available is being closed slowly so potentially the market power is there. Also, Google has AdSense that , if properly implemented, could generate enough revenue inside free apps to get devs rolling in. It has been an interesting year with Android and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what's in stock next year.