09
Dec
android-market-10-billion

In case you haven't heard, Google has been offering 10 apps a day for just $0.10 each as part of a 10 day promotion to celebrate the 10 billionth download from the Android Market. For end users, this promotion has been fantastic, as it offers quality paid apps for next to nothing. In fact, the promotion has also been great for the developers behind the promoted apps, who have seen hugely increased exposure, skyrocketing purchases, and higher spots in the "Top Paid" list. Let's take a quick look at the current state of the Top Paid list, actually:

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Look familiar? You may notice that just about all of the top apps are those included in the 10 billion download promotion over the past few days. This is where the promotion has done some damage.

Developers who were not invited to be a part of the $0.10 promotion are getting burned by the sale, particularly those whose apps used to be in the Top Paid list. By allowing the sales of promoted apps to be reflected in Top Paid listing, Google is essentially launching selected apps to the top of the list, while simultaneously making it harder for other apps to get there - all for a short-lived promotion. The worst part is that the situation is getting worse every day – essentially, each day that the promotion runs, 10 more apps are piled on top of those that were in the Top Paid rankings but did not make the cut for the celebration. In the end, without serious promotional effort on the part of the developers, there will, in effect, be up to 100 apps (not all of which previously held spots in the top rankings) impeding the sales of apps that may otherwise hold those positions. It's worth noting that many developers of top paid apps were not even approached about the promotion, pretty much sealing their fate for the next 10 days and potentially beyond.

Interestingly, participation in the promotion was not mandatory, as confirmed via Twitter by anderwebs, the mind behind ADWLauncher EX.

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Ostensibly, the result of the promotion was not an unintended consequence. It is a predictable result of such a high-profile promotion, and likely made the decision to participate pretty easy for those invited.

I think the real question here is whether sales resulting from this promotion are so astronomically high that the Market won't be able to correct itself shortly after the promotion ends. The answer to this is a definite maybe. If left alone, the Market would take a substantial amount of time to adjust, but it is more likely that devs who have lost their rankings among the top paid apps have noticed what's going on, and will being putting forth even more effort to regain their position.

One developer wrote to us confirming that at the start of the promotion, his app experienced a whopping 40% sales drop, which has since been compensated for by vigorous promotion and a special sale. If all devs excluded from this celebration followed the same model of invigorated promotion, things would likely balance out in short order. I can't help but think, however, that expecting developers to recover such losses through additional promotion/sales efforts is a bit unfair in this situation, and it's clear that we're not the only ones who've noticed this.

All of that being said, it's unlikely that there is anything particularly sinister behind the promotion. While the result that is currently playing out was certainly predictable, I don't believe that Google would intentionally disrupt the hierarchy of the Market simply to boost their 100 favorite apps. Rather, I think that boosted sales acted as an incentive for developers invited to participate, and there was likely little regard given to what impact other developers' sales may experience as a result of displacement from the Top Paid list. The next question is "can this be corrected?"

At first glance, I think it might have behooved Google to exclude the promotion's effect on sales from the popularity ratings of the promoted apps, thereby giving a relatively equal shot to developers who didn't make the cut. The problem here, however, is that apps in the promotion would not exactly receive due ranking, as the chances that popular apps would receive 0 purchases for a ten-day span is quite low. This would have (ironically) pushed the promoted apps down the list, which would be just as bad (if not worse) as forcing them up.

In the end, it is a difficult situation, without an apparent answer. On the one hand, it is unfair to expect devs to recoup from such a drastic drop in ranking, especially considering how much some apps rely on such rankings to make sales. On the other hand, it will always be the responsibility of app creators to promote their product and ensure that it stays on top, no matter what may happen. Either way, this promotion is a rough blow to some and a great benefit to others, resulting in polarized opinions.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that the situation is definitely not ideal, but everyone involved will survive, and regardless of developers' additional promotional efforts or any other results of this promotion, the Market's top listings are sure to regain their composure sooner or later.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • chris

    Man people will bitch about anything...smh

    • david

      Now people bitch about they making a sale! Wtf... Sale is that! People will flock to the discounted prices... if you dont discount, you miss the wagon... i have an app published btw.

  • BK Phil

    I would expect sales of anything that isn't 10 cents to be close to zero - why buy that app you really need NOW, if there's a good chance it might be almost free in the next 10 days?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, that's definitely another factor.

    • ZRod

      I actually have decided not to buy anything until the promotion ends just in case =)

  • Perry Ahern

    Not that I was planning to buy any, but if I was I'd definitely wait just in case it showed up as part of the 10-cent promo.

  • Eric

    I feel bad for go launcher. The app is free, so it can never be part of a promotion.

    Mean while adw launcher is raking it in with manufactured publicity just because it happens to be a paid app.

    It's kind of too bad, because I feel go launcher is superior. (i know its personal preference)

    • DM

      Very personal indeed. Go Launcher super suck if you ask me and Anderweb is a far more respectful and qualified dev than the all Go Steal..hem...Go Team all together.

      • Matthew

        I'm wondering why you would call them "Go Steal"?
        Go Launcher is excellent, can't see any reason to call it "super suck".

    • todd

      I paid for LauncherPro long ago, but have been using Go Launcher for a long time now. Up until this promotion, I hadn't considered buying another launcher, but gave ADW Ex a try and I really like it.

    • Danny

      Go Launcher is free. ADW EX isn't. That means they show up in completely different sections of the Market.

      Go Launcher could still show up in 'Top Free', but it would be impossible for it to show up in 'Top Paid'.

      You are making an argument over nothing, no offence.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    I'm curious to hear Google's take on this. The Top Paid list will be dominated by hand-picked apps by the end of the 10 days.

    • Appelflap

      Absolutely, as a developer myself I'm kinda astonished by this promo. It seems that Google is intervening in the market after all... big time.

      To be honest it feels like a sort of "punishment" to have worked hard to get a top ranking and falling down now in a sort of free fall. It is hard to keep me motivated to commit to the Android market.

      • LeoM

        Price your app 10 cents and send word to the best Android Blogs out there... see what happens.

        • jake

          You can't price apps lower than 99 cents, only google can do that.

      • Alex1x

        After the promotion ends, just make your application $0.10c until you move up in ranking or get to certain number can download :)

        • jake

          Devs can't price apps lower than 99 cents, only google can do that.

      • Joey

        Google is going after average joe's credit card. I would never have keyed in my credit card to Android Market without this promotion.

        From now on, i could even buy your app if its useful to me.

        • Mark Ayers

          This is, I think, the vital point that people aren't seeing.

  • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

    Google is playing favorites here, very bad deal for everyone not one of the favorites.

    It's hardly surprising, though.

  • Morenicano

    I think it would help the other developers if Google decided to stay with the 10 cent promo permanently and go the way of Amazon and offer one every day. It'll at least give the other developers exposure and won't push the others down the rankings as fast since it isn't 10 at a time... That way they have a chance to recover...

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Not a bad idea.

      • ocdtrekkie

        And Google already does Free Song of the Day. It wouldn't be that odd for them to do Free App of the Day.

        Sure, Amazon could call them a copycat, but I see Amazon pricing the same apps down to 10 cents... so...

      • Danny

        The problem with this is I am going to be hesitant to purchase an app because "it might show up as a free/10c app one day". It might affect genuine sales of apps. Just like, right now, I am not buying any apps until this 10 billion promotion is over.

    • jordanjay29

      Have you read about the way Amazon does it? I'm not saying that Google will do the same, but Amazon twists their developers' arms to get those free prices, and screws them out of more than just $.99 x noOfDownloads. After the app gets purchased, most apps require some kind of server infrastructure to run, which costs the devs money that is normally recuperated through app costs.

      It's a vicious cycle, and one I'd much rather not see in the Android Market.

  • onazoL.JG

    Is there really anything stopping former top paid devs from reducing paid app price for duration (or rest of at this point) of ten day app sale? Wouldn't that be a better suggestion? Top spots go to competitors in any field, I am sure redditors and Android fans would list or push 10 cent apps for the next 6 days.

    • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

      The difference is, when you open the Market, there isn't a big button the size of half the screen that directs you to that app, like the promo'd ones.

      • onazoL.JG

        The fans that craze this are all over it way before that banner hits. Better to fight than cry.

        • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

          Sales drop really hasn't been that big for me (and I sell quite a few apps), dropping the price per copy to 1/10th, 1/20th, 1/30th etc (depending on the app) without that promotion? Sorry, there's just no way in hell I would even break even on that one.

    • Appelflap

      Another crazy thing : developers can't aks less than 50ct. Only Google can do this.

      • onazoL.JG

        Then yes, you guys are right and doors need to be knocked.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        I thought it was 99c.

  • PB

    I dont think its that big of a deal. Amazon has been giving away free paid apps everyday since they launched and while true these apps rise to the top of the free then paid app list, they quickly return to their rightful place once the promotional period is over.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      This is different. 10 apps every day is much different than 1 app. We'll see how it returns, but the next few weeks will likely be harsh for all other devs.

  • Vishal

    This issue can be easily avoided by Google changing their "Top Picks" algorithm to exclude apps that were sold during such promotions. Or maybe the only count 10% of the sell count of the "promotionally priced" apps.

    • onazoL.JG

      Lol, I like this percent idea, too! Keep it in the spirit of ten!

    • rugarth-android-man

      I like your idea. It certainly makes more sense and is a win-win for all the devs and users alike.

      They could refine/complicate it more to count only the percentage of the price that 10c makes of that app. Example a $1 app's sale would only be counted 10% and a $2 app would be 5%, to be included in the top paid apps.

    • edd

      I was thinking this too :)

      I think Google are dropping the ball with the market in many ways, especially how bad it is at search, considering they are the Masters of Search!

  • Bolski

    How about you total the number of sales of the 10 cent app until it equals it's normal selling price and count that as one sale, rather than counting each 10 cent sale as a sale.

    As for Amazon's free app of the day, that actually causes lost revenue for the developer. People will just wait until the app goes for free and then download it. How many potentially lost sales is that? It's been shown by the statistics that when the app goes for free, it spikes in it's downloads. But, check the stats before and after, it drops off significantly. As it is, once you've gotten the app for free, it's not like you can go back to Amazon and buy it because it's already registered as purchased.

    However, what I have done is I've gone back to the Android market and purchased it there, if it's available in the Android market, which it seems everything in Amazon is, but it's not true the other way round: not all Android Market apps are in the Amazon app store.

    But, I guess you just can't please everyone. Someone is going to cry foul.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110317604568805674201 Björn Lindahl

    I'm a developer myself and was at the top of paid apps (probably it's regionally, not globally since it's an app only available in Swedish) for substantial time earlier this year. I was ahead of many apps that was bought many many times more than my app so the algorithm for getting at the top of paid seem to quite time-dependent so I guess apps selling loads during the sale will drop off quite fast after the sale and I do think Google will turn down the importance of high sales for them during the sale. It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

    On the bright side, at least here in Sweden there have been very few people actually connecting their credit card to their Google account so the resistance to do this and actually buy your first app have been very distant. I hope that this sale have pushed many people to actually connect their credit card to their account, making it so much more likely to buy the next app. This is the biggest win with this sale I guess and the reason why they didn't offered the apps totally free of charge.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      That's a good point - hopefully this pushed a ton of new payment-enabled accounts which will pay off in the future.

      • Cyanofy

        For users like me with low budget for apps, this promo leaves me enough balance for some full price purchase as many from my wish list are/will be featured in the promo... and I connected my card first time.

  • Tyler C

    I think the promo does far more good than harm. I am one of those people that will not pay for an app (especially games) unless it happens to be a rooted app since I like supporting those developers. Yet because of this sell I have bought a few apps that I otherwise never would have bought, such as ADWLauncher. I like HTC Sense, so I dont really even use ADW but I bought it anyway simply because it was 10¢. I also wanted to buy beautiful widgets way back but never did simply because of the price and I thought "why buy that when I have HTC Sense and their widgets are pretty nice?"
    Yet because of the sale, I bought beautiful widgets too.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It does more good to developers who you bought from and who were featured.

  • OperationHorror

    tl;dr article: 10 cent apps sell, things will go back to normal later.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      We'll see if and when.

  • Freak4Dell

    How is this different than any sale on any product, ever? It's like you crying for Coke because Wal-Mart put Pepsi on sale last week, or crying for Reebok because Foot Locker is having a sale on Nike products.

    You're reading way too far into this. The market will work itself out soon. The only risk of that not happening is if there are apps featured in this promotion that people end up liking better than whatever the alternative to that app was. Quite frankly, if that happens, then it's a sign to the developer to work harder and make his app better.

    • Appelflap

      That's what I'm hoping. One has to realize however that apps that have high exposure will become self feeding. This is a old and proven marketing strategy. People new to the market (and if we may believe the 500k activations a day, this will be quit a lot) will first go for the high ranked apps.

      Plus don't forget that Google is doing this just before the holiday season, so eventually it may be a tough game to beat the 100 apps Google selected.

      But yes, let's see where this will lead to. I don't hope though that a lot of developers who contributed to the milestone will be blown away by Google during this party.

      Don't understand me wrong. I like sales, and it is a good thing there's a party going on. But it's just plain wrong that a lot of developers who contibuted a lot to the success of Android are not invited. Worse, are punished..

  • http://www.androidstatic.com Matthew Deal

    It's the nature of the beast and selling apps is a zero sum game. Reports have already shown that the majority of users only download a handful of apps -- I think if anything the Market generates more interest by pulling stunts like this that get people excited.

  • AnderWeb

    Each time a blog/website (like androidpolice por example) decides to post a "breaking new" about the next iteration of angry birds they are seriously damaging hundreds of indy developers with really cool games out in the wild. Why is this situation so different?
    A blog decide to announce the new google maps features and lots of iGO/Route/watever app developers cry at home... Why is this time different?
    So... is the android market doing it wrong? Then every blog/news site/community site is doing it wrong...
    And remember, android market does editor picks, team picks, etc. They change weekly, so each week lots of apps get into that "top listings" and lots get out of them.

    • Appelflap

      The situation is clearly wrong for apps that aren't promoted on the market OR blogs...

      And as a developer you must know that market promotions are way more effective than blog promos.

      • GreatBigDog

        What?? I rarely if ever purchase apps from the Market top paid or top free sections. The majority of my purchases are through the search button because I'm looking for an app to perform a specific task or a specific app that I've seen recommended in online blogs.

  • Mark

    Meanwhile, Google are updating and adding a huge number of credit cards and promoting how slick and seamless the app purchase process and the Market in general has become. That will make it far more frictionless in the future for an increasing number of impulse buy transactions to occur. This is a 10 day promotion, which should be considered as a thank you to Android users for supporting the Market and a promotion of the Market itself. Perhaps people would prefer Google to sit on their hands and occasionally mumble at an obscure engineering conference that they sort of have an application distribution platform. Enjoy it for what it is.

    • jake

      Slick and seamless until the market goes down for half a day.

      And nobody said google should have sat on their hands, there was a solution offered above to not affect the top list as much.

  • jordanjay29

    The other side of this is that Google has created a really nice marketing gig to drive app sales (and register more credits cards, as others have mentioned, which in turn allows even MORE app sales) right before the holidays. This coincidentally also celebrates the 10 billion apps that are already in the Android market.

    So what's the problem? When iTunes does this same thing, people don't cry like this. It's just that Google has NEVER done an Android Market promotion before. So they have a few server hiccups (okay, a few serious ones) and some people mad that their app didn't get chosen. Oh well, can't really please everyone.

    On the other side, you have a lot of happy Android customers who are able to try out Beautiful Widgets, Tetris, ADW, and a bunch of other apps I've already forgotten. Maybe they'll like them so much that their friends will buy the same apps. That brings in more revenue for these people, who can then finance even more apps.

    Sure, it kind of sucks for the apps that didn't get picked. But seriously, there's 10 billion of them, their chances weren't great to start out with.

    • facepalm

      Um. There isn't 10 BILLION apps, are you retarded? There's been 10 billion downloads.

      10 billion apps, lmao.

  • http://natanael.posterous.com Natanael L

    As for me, this is the first time I've ever bought any apps. 1 SEK? How can you resist that? So nobody's being hurt by my change in behavior by this sale (not counting relatively tiny reinforcement of the best-selling ranking from one person).

  • https://market.android.com/developer?pub=Acdroid#?t=W251bGwsbnVsbCxudWxsLDEsImFjLmdlc3R1cmVDYWxsIl0. Aracem

    You forgot something that is goof for all developers. One of the mayor problem in the market with paid apps is that the users dont have a Google checkout account. With this promotion im quite sure that google increse the % of people that can buy apps in the market and this is good for all of us.
    My paid app, Gesture Call Donate, increse a little the number of downloads and i imagine that in the future all of developers will be benefited by this promotion.

  • Michael

    As for me, this is no bug deal. Not because I dont think this article is right, I think it is spot on, but I also think that being on top paid is the reason that those apps remain on top paid, it changes very little. Unless an app just sucks and gets bad reviews.

    Regardless of whether or not the app is usefull or just popular because of an initial influx of users that boosted it to top paid only to be kept there simply from being on top paid, even though there are superior apps out there, could be a problem as well. It just resets the power chain.

  • Dan

    Since getting my ipad 5 months ago, i haven't purchased a single android app, but have spent well over $200 on apps for the ipad - many of which are on android. Since this ten cent promo started, ive downloaded about 5 apps for android and I'm using my honeycomb tablet more often. This is what Android needed. I hope they do this several tines a year. As for it hurting developers... I wouldnt have purchased this apps otherwise.

  • orbiting

    It's not just developer with paid apps that are having problems.

    My games are getting 1/10th the number of downloads that they were getting before the promotion.

    I'm now getting more downloads per day from other App Stores. Yesterday I had twice as many downloads on the Amazon App Store vs. the Android Market.

    On a normal day, 10% of my downloads were from the alternative App Stores. That's now inverted.

    Zero sum game for # of apps downloaded/user.

  • http://adbandroidgames.blogspot.com Steve

    I think many of you already mentioned that this promotion will melt the ice between app purchases and the users. It is a spark to invite android users to actually try to the purchasing system. I myself never purchased anything from android market before because I have easy access to the black market. This promotions has changed my view. Legit copies get regular updates, can be easily restored if you factory reset your phone, the app is forever yours and you can even use it on your other android device with the same google account, shopping makes alot of people feel good, if you don't like any app you can do a full refund in 15mins! It is because of this event, I managed to get my colleagues and friends to actually start app purchasing which they are so sceptical at mainly due to fear of card fraud but this fear has vanished and they are happily downloading the 10 cents app. I seriously will be surprised if they won't pay 99 cents for apps in the future if they really want the app.

  • http://profiles.google.com/eromrab eromrab

    This is what is known as increasing buyer switching costs. Google is getting people to buy a bunch of apps. We'll say that people buy 5 of each 10 for 10 days. They end up spending $5 (5 * .10 = .50 * 10 = $5). But in reality, let's say those apps average $3 each at retail price, they are gaining a value of $150 (50 apps * $3).

    Now, I know some of the apps I've bought at $.10 were selling for $5 or more, so that value could be much higher. And I know that I have bought almost every app available, so that number is even higher for me. So let's see what this does to the buyer... when they go to pick a new phone... they are going to either (A) pick an Android phone or (B) lose all their apps and have to repurchase them.

    This is a brilliant idea by Google and I think it was probably their goal all along. So the apps they chose to discount were probably apps that they felt would be good enough to make people feel the cost of switching from Android to iPhone.

  • http://profiles.google.com/eromrab eromrab

    Oh, on another note, this benefits the Amazon App Store too because part of the agreement with developers is that they cannot sell the app for a lower price at any other venue. So these $.10 apps are $.10 on Amazon too haha.

  • xlvii

    Please anyone tell me. What did receive developers who were participated? 0.10 for the app or the whole price with subsidizing from Google? Thanks!

  • http://igtsoft.com/buybooks David @ Buy Books

    I suppose it is hard to make everyone happy. It sounds like a win-win for Google and Android users, at the expense of leaving developers with zero or negative impact.