James Williams

Lessons from the Android Market

Tags: Android

As you may have already read, I published an app in the Android Market(read here). Having had a week to receive comments and tweak the app a bit, here are some of the lessons I've learned in the week since.

  1. You will get unjustified 1 star ratings. I've seen it on apps that did precisely what they said they would do and well. Most users are the type that buy a video game but eschew reading the manual. In their defense, there is no requirement for the app to have a help screen and they would have to go back to the market to see whatever instructions accompanied the description they skipped. By that time, they might have decided they would uninstall it no matter what.

  2. Ratings are not to be trusted. Out of almost 400 installs, I have about 250 active users(about 70%). Only 10 left comments. Statiscally, that's less than 3%. Those are kind of like the high and low scores they throw out in the Olympics. When looking at comments, it's much more helpful to look at comments addressing possible speed and latency issues than the "this sux!".

  3. The Market is in beta. I know they said that but unlike GMail, it really is in beta. IMHO, though it is a great product, I think the T-Mobile marketing made the device seem as what it is not: an iPhone competitor. The number of apps is growing every day but it would be a while until it reaches the depth of the iPhone App store. And because of the current restriction from charging for an app, mixed in with the gems are several duplicated apps. It seems a tip calculator is the Android equivalent of Hello, World!. There is only so much that can be done until you get a real device in hand. I expect the complexity and quality of third-party apps to improve greatly over time.

  4. Upgrading is the concern of the developer. The Market doesn't seamlessly inform users of updates and all comments and stats get erased if you upload a new version.

  5. Unlike Alton Brown suggests, unitaskers are preferred. It's much easier to code and/or find an app that does one thing well than one that does fifteen things satisfactorily.