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zz Morning Light's Blog » Thoughts on Android Developer Profitability

Title: zz Morning Light's Blog » Thoughts on Profitability for Android Developers
Date: 2013-03-24 12:46:00

As a small bird among Android developers, here I will combine my own experiences and observations to discuss the profitability models of Android products. This is a problem that must be faced and is related to the survival of the team.

For Android development, it can be mainly divided into three levels:

  1. Application development

As everyone knows, it is commonly known as the "API Prince". It requires more consideration of creativity and profitability.

  1. System development (Framework + Native)

Using C/C++, it requires familiarity with the overall framework and codebase of Android. Generally, the so-called deep customization of systems in China is based on this, such as MIUI, Dianxin, etc. Customizing a system UI, creating ROMs, etc.

  1. Low-level development (system porting, drivers, etc.)

Familiarity with Linux driver development, Linux kernel structure, and porting for specific hardware. This type of developer is usually from large mobile phone manufacturers, such as Meizu, Xiaomi, HTC, etc.

Here, the main focus is on the survival issues of app developers. Of course, joining a large company can be a better option. However, for independent small teams, this is a problem that urgently needs to be considered, and it is generally reflected that Android developers have weak profitability, with many of them barely making a living.

In my personal opinion, the main reasons for the weak profitability of Android are as follows:

  1. Android users inherently lack the habit of paying, especially in China (so some powerful teams focus their main efforts overseas and skip the domestic market. For example, Dolphin first promoted overseas before entering the domestic market);
  2. Inconvenience of using the official market for domestic users;
  3. Few high-quality Android applications, mixed with inferior ones;
  4. Indeed, a particularly good profitability model has not been found;
  5. The operational capabilities of small and medium-sized teams are generally weak, which is why there are incubators like Innovation Works.

Currently, the main profitability models for small and medium-sized Android developers are as follows: project outsourcing, paid downloads, advertising, points, and pre-installed by manufacturers.

Project outsourcing: No need to explain.
Advertising display
Traditional advertising display refers to developers embedding mobile advertising banners in their applications.

Foreign advertising companies: AdMob, Millennial, InMobi, Mdot, OneRiot, Quattro, ZestAdz, Tapjoy, Mobfox. Domestic advertising companies: WAPS, Domob, Adwo, Youmi, Baidu, Easou, AirAD, Weiyun, AppMedia, Dipai, Zhidian Media, Anji, Wowo, Anwo, Yidong, VPON, Tencent Juying. In addition, there are some advertising aggregation providers, if they cooperate.

The billing methods mainly include: cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA), and cost per thousand impressions (CPM). The tricky part is the first two, as many merchants' ads are not billed or have very low unit prices. But it is well known that few people will click on ads. Generally speaking, the cost per click ranges from a few cents to 0.2 yuan.

In terms of advertising content, it is mostly product promotions by wealthy companies. The types of ads are relatively single and the quantity is also very small. I have used an advertising company before, and they provided a total of only 7-8 ads that kept repeating.

In fact, embedded ad banners greatly affect the user experience. Just think about it, a tiny screen is occupied by 1/5 by ads, who would be happy about that? At least I won't use software with embedded ads, and even if I have to, I won't click on them. Even if I click once, I won't click again. Generally speaking, applications with embedded ads don't last long on my phone, and I usually uninstall them after using them a few times.

However, it is true that there are some experts online who make a lot of money through advertising display, earning hundreds of dollars a day, like the legendary "Tuski".

App recommendations
Nowadays, it is quite common to add an "app recommendation" button or drawer in a suitable position in the application. Clicking on it will bring up a list of recommended apps for users to download, and developers can earn income from it.

Points system
The points system is similar to virtual currency. The application sets up some levels, props, advanced features, or content that users can purchase with virtual currency. The source of virtual currency can be downloading recommended apps or clicking on displayed ads. Through this method, it can promote users' attention to recommended apps and ad displays.

Some developers publish Android development-related books to generate income. In addition, there can be donation mechanisms, such as Alipay, PayPal, etc. Of course, I also discovered a team that earns money in this way: Transmission Gate.

Especially, operation is crucial
Browsers can cooperate with websites (similar to navigation), or newer ones like Dolphin have developed into platforms, and web applications based on them also cooperate with websites. LBS and group-buying applications can establish partnerships with offline businesses. Hotel and lifestyle applications can cooperate with multiple offline business hotels for promotion, such as the Pudding series...

In other words, for a good product, if it is well-operated and accumulates a certain number of users, it can establish partnerships with suitable merchants. For application development, it is best to specialize and focus on one's own strengths, avoiding direct competition with giants like Tencent, and grasping one's own characteristics. Having creativity is good, but it is also important to ensure the quality of the product and optimize the user experience. This way, it is possible to attract the attention of venture capital and then with funding, the promotion and operation below will be easier.

zz Morning Light's Blog » Thoughts on Profitability for Android Developers.

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