With the launch in early April of Amazon's Appstore, the Android app market has been given a huge shot in the arm that is going to help Android apps make strides against Apple's App Store. In fact, Apple's response to Amazon's launch was to release a lawsuit claiming that the App Store term is exclusive to Apple.
As Google has made improvements to its Android Market, Amazon is the king of consumer sales and has introduced some great features into its store. Playing along the same theme as its bookstore's "What's Inside" that allows you to read before you purchase, Amazon has introduced a feature called Test Drive that allows visitors to test-drive an app before buying. The try-before-you-buy feature allows a visitor to play the app on a web-based Android emulator for a limited time. This is a huge selling feature, allowing an Android user to experience the app somewhat prior to making a purchase. In comparison, the Android Market offered a 24-hour return policy after someone made a purchase but a buyer couldn't experience the app beforehand. Google then discontinued the feature.
Google has now released in-app purchase capability that will allow users to download free apps which have purchase options built in. Many developers are adopting the “freemium” model with in-app purchase capability as a way to spur more downloads and hopefully unlock sales of features within an app. Google's in-app purchase capability requires Google Checkout, which is not supported by all carriers so there will be some limitations of that service for awhile.
Another vendor that has made strides in building an alternative Android market is GetJar, which reports to have had 1.5 billion app downloads since the launch of its site. This company is working hard to get the attention of app developers through its no-fee approach. GetJar doesn’t take a cut of developer revenues like other sites. You can create an app and post it for no charge. Instead, it offers other services to help you market your app such as pay-per-install and fixed advertising. You select the billing service you want to use for your app as well. These billing services such as Billing Revolution charge 15 cents per transaction.
Although the GetJar service is free, you will spend money to market your app and for a billing service for each transaction. Carefully count the cost of working with a third-party app vendor to sell your app versus paying a straight 30 percent to the Android Market. The third-party approach is similar to self-publishing a book. Your potential to make more money is higher, but the marketing expense falls on you. If you use a publisher to publish your book, you take a smaller percentage but you gain the marketing muscle of that publisher and its ability to get your book into bookstores. The same can be said of self-publishing apps. Using a third-party site to publish and promote your app is a good idea, but you may have to support more of the marketing and the cost.