The Best Things in Android Are Free

A year ago, iA Writer for Android entered the Play Store. So far, we have sold a little more than 6,000 apps. At a price of 1 to 5 Dollars, this doesn’t cover much more than one month of app development. So we decided to go free and add in app purchases later.

We are not sure why apps sell in the Apple universe but not in the Android world. It just seems to be a hard cold fact:

Looking at the sales numbers of paid Android apps it becomes apparent that plain paid offerings just do not get traction on Android. Why? We are not sure. Here is what we have learned:

  1. We sell pretty much the same product on Google Play and in the App Store. The Android app is close to feature par with its iOS counter part. In other words: The product quality is not to blame.
  2. There are fewer comparable products and downright copy cats in the Android world. There are fewer comparable alternatives. So it can’t be the competition either.
  3. Google’s decision to rank apps according to an algorithm that favors free apps hurts paid apps. Still, this doesn’t fully explain the situation.
  4. It didn’t matter what price we asked, on an average day iA Writer for Android’s revenue was always 30 Dollars. At one Dollar we sold 30 apps, at 5 Dollars we sold six, at two Dollars we sold 15. This price elasticity is amazing, and very similar to its Apple counterpart, only at a microscopic scale.

Our assumption is: On Android, you need to go free and try your luck with in app purchases.

If you know better why we and almost everybody else fails to sell paid apps on Google Play, we are curious to hear your insights. In the meantime, iA Writer for Android will be available for free, without any feature reduction. We are planning to continue the development of the app which we internally use and love. Rather than slowing down the development, we go at it even harder. The idea is to finance big feature updates like custom templates and super fancy export functionality via in app purchases.