How Google Can Fix Android's Lame App Store

google android motorola

It’s no accident Apple has 140,000 applications in its App Store while Google’s Android Market has just over 25,000 apps.

Apple built a great platform and a great storefront for developers. So far, Google has not.

Android’s marketplace is suffering from device fragmentation, a lax return policy, weak volumes of downloads, and a lack of strong developer support.

If Android is ever going to topple the iPhone, it needs to address problems with its Market, as soon as possible.

How to fix the Android Market →

One problem: Google has been “sloppy,” says developer Jason Laan.

Jason’s iPhone application iVideoCamera is the second best selling application in iTunes. It was number one for over a week, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for him and his brother’s mobile company Laan Labs.

However, he and other developers haven’t been able to find similar success in Google’s Android Market.

Compared to the Android Market, Jason says “Apple is 10 fold better.” At first he preferred the Google marketplace, but now he thinks it is sloppy. “Three Android apps on my phone are broken. If were Apple, it would be fixed. Google has been sloppy.”

In December, wireless firm Skyhook Wireless produced a report about developer frustration with Android. Skyhook interviewed 30 mobile application developers and concluded, “developers are not generating real revenue via Android apps.” As a result “developers are becoming hesitant to invest more time and effort into apps that do not pay off.”

The majority of developers Skyhook spoke with are not going to put more effort into developing applications.

Similarly, Katy Kelley at marketing agency Carrot Creative tells us, “while brands are inquisitive about the Android, they’re not fully willing to make the financial commitment to it. Carrot Creative receives about a 90% demand rate for iPhone apps, and about 10% for the Android… most of which end up not investing in anyway.”

Here’s 10 ways to fix the Android market and make developers happy →
Here’s the individual list of suggestions:

  • Google should build its own iTunes
  • Allow links to the Android Market
  • Fix the billing process
  • Do something about device fragmentation
  • Build a community for developers
  • Put all the prices in the same currency
  • Sell the equivilent of an iPod Touch for Android
  • Kill the 24-hour return policy
  • Sell more phones!
  • Advertise on TV

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”google-should-build-its-own-itunes-store-1″
title=”Google should build its own iTunes store”
content=”A Skyhook wireless report from December said developers think there is poor app discovery in the Android Market. Apps get buried after release.

Jason Laan of Laan Labs says Android doesn’t have an equivalent of Apple’s iTunes, so there’s no easy public Web site (or in-app site) to browse for Android applications.

Android has this awful, sparse site for browsing. It provides minimal information, and weak screengrabs. Google should change that.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b65b74b0000000000f5ff2b/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”provide-links-to-the-android-market-2″
title=”Provide links to the Android Market”
content=”After Google builds an iTunes-like space for browsing Android apps, it should allow developers to link to that space, like Apple does.

For instance, we recently gave MenuPages’ iPhone app a positive review. In the review, we linked straight to the App Store. If someone wanted to download the app, it couldn’t be easier.

For Android, that’s not so easy. Jason Laan says he wants links for Android so Laan Labs can tweet out the latest Android application, with a link to the store.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b2aea7100000000002b6361/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”fix-the-billing-process-3″
title=”Fix the billing process”
content=”From SkyHook’s December report on the Android marketplace: ‘Developers are concerned that Google Checkout contributes to their low download volumes. 43% feel that they would sell more apps if Android used a carrier billing or another simpler billing system.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4ae9dcb6000000000020abd2/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”do-something-about-device-fragmentation-4″
title=”Do something about device fragmentation”
content=”Google should ‘make the manufacturers play nice and share their changes,’ says Pete Nofelt of Perk Mobile. He tells us Google/Android has not been public about the differences across handsets, and it hasn’t forced makers to ‘comply with some standards.’

Katy Kelley at marketing firm Carrot Creative adds, ‘from a development standpoint, the biggest challenge brands (and subsequently agencies) face is that so many new phones support the Android platform that each of them have different hardware components and feature capabilities. The user experience is different across Android devices (i.e. screen resolutions). Plus, Android doesn’t provide design guidelines for development like Apple does.'”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4ad72aa60000000000d5b459/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”build-a-community-for-developers-5″
title=”Build a community for developers”
content=”Apple and Microsoft are well known for hosting developer events. Google has only had a few at its corporate HQ, says Pete Nofelt of Perk Mobile.

Pete thinks Google should host events like Apple and Microsoft, to develop a community of developers and make sure they’re properly developing for the platform.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b65c66900000000007ad54f/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”make-the-prices-all-the-same-currency-6″
title=”Make the prices all the same currency”
content=”This is a pet-peeve of ours. When we go into the Market after getting an Android-based phone, we find it bizarre to see US dollar prices next to British pounds and Euros. Settle on one currency — preferably US dollars in the United States — and list all app prices in that same denomination.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b65c9bc000000000024e5b1/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”sell-the-android-equivalent-of-an-ipod-touch-7″
title=”Sell the Android equivalent of an iPod touch”
content=”It’s easy to get started developing for the iPhone with a $199 iPod touch, which doesn’t require a mobile contact and doesn’t necessarily replace your mobile phone.

There’s no option like this for Android. Google should get a company to make a $199, wi-fi-only gadget to get more Android devices into developers’ hands. Coders would be more inclined to write apps for hardware they own.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/997a6c797948a449f3b0ff00/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”kill-the-24-hour-return-policy-8″
title=”Kill the 24-hour return policy”
content=”Makers of novelty applications or simple games are going to shy away from Android because they’ll lose impulse purchases.

Google needs to change the return policy. This one isn’t for the consumer. It’s a developer request.

  • Here’s Apple’s return policy: ‘All Sales and rentals (as applicable) are final.’
  • Here’s Google’s: ‘You have 24 hours from the time of purchase (not download) to return any applications purchased from Android Market for a full refund of any applicable fees.’

If you look through iTunes, there’s a lot of silly applications or simple games for $0.99 at the top of the paid sellers list. On an impulse, a buyer is likely to shell out a buck for, ‘iFart.’

When the buyer realises a day later that free versions of fart apps or the same games are all over the store, the buyer would return the paid fart application, costing the developer a sale.

Sure, having a return policy may increase app quality in the long run. But in the short run, it’s a loophole that anyone can take advantage of to ‘rent’ paid apps for a day.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b65cdbd0000000000834a5d/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”sell-more-phones-9″
title=”Sell more phones!”
content=”Google needs to sell more Android based phones. This is obvious, but it needs to be said.

Apple has sold more than 75 million iPhone OS devices. Google is still getting started.

The more phones it sells, the bigger the market for developers to sell to.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b172b0b0000000000f90e4a/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”advertise-on-tv-10″
title=”Advertise on TV”
content=”Apple has its unmistakable ‘there’s an app for that’ television commercials that emphasise applications for the iPhone. Android doesn’t have something close to this.

Android has the maybe-misogynistic Droid ads, and a few confusing T-Mobile commercials, but they don’t focus on software. The ads say ‘powered by Google,’ which is nice, but it’s not the same thing.

Google should be marketing its great applications and explaining why they’re better than the iPhone.

Since TV isn’t really Google’s thing, maybe it could advertise them on the web. Every Tuesday, for instance, it could throw a link up on Google.com to Andy Rubin’s favourite new application in the Android Market. Or, instead of something so radical, use put display ads on the web that link to the suggested standalone Android Market.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b65e4250000000000472c72/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”dont-miss-11″
title=”Don’t miss…”
content=”The 10 most expensive iPhone apps >
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b5515cb00000000001941c3/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[/slideshow]

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.