What's the deal with paid apps on Android?
So this post got me thinking about paid apps on Android. specifically why there aren't a lot of them, and why none of them seem to be successful.
A quick glance at the play store says that about 80 of the top 100 paid apps are games. I don't play a lot of games, the only paid games I have are Angry birds space and Radiant HD. I wouldn't play Cut the Rope or Where's my Perry, even if they didn't cost money, so lets try to ignore games. I want to know why there's no successful paid apps.
Ask MG Seigler, and he'll tell you that all android users are poor losers who don't put any value on the hard work of developers and can't afford 99c apps. I think this is bullshit, because the successful android phones have always been the high-end ones, the Galaxy S series, the Htc evo, Desire and sensation, the motorola razr and Atrix. LG hasn't been successful because they can't break into the high-end. I don't know anyone with a galaxy Ace, but I know half a dozen S2 owners, I have never seen a motorola backflip in person, but know 3 people with Atrixes, I know one person with a wildfire S, but 4 with sensations and evo 3D's. For the most part, everyone pays $200 for their phones, android and iphone alike.
Part of my problem with paid apps is that there aren't a lot that I would even want, going through the list, the first non-game, non-root app that I even want is #43 Tasks, which I bought after using the free version for about a day (that app is awesome, buy it). After that, I got up into the 400s without seeing anything exciting. The really great apps on Android all seem to be free. Incidentally, #240 is a live wallpaper which puts swimming sperm on your homescreen. It costs $1.59 and has 50k+ downloads. wtf.
There weren't paid apps in the market at launch, and I think this misstep has a lot to do with it. When paid apps finally came, there were already free apps to replace them. We've established free as a baseline, so $1 is the pricey option. On the other hand, the iphone started with apps like the $999 "I am Rich" app, and $5 regular apps, leaving $1 as the 'cheap' option, and free as the throwaway flashlight or game demo option.
This culture of free apps has lead to there being some really rad free apps, which only makes paid apps harder to sell. Why would I pay for any twitter client when Boid is probably better, and a whole lot freer? Why would I pay for Instapaper when Pocket is free and has more features and support? If instapaper wants money from users, they need to be $3 better than pocket; if you're an ipad user with a massive instapaper queue, that is probably decent value, but for someone looking for thier first article saving app, Pocket is a no-brainer. I would've paid for Boid and Pocket if I'd had that option, but since Boid and Pocket are free, if anyone else wants me to pay, they had better show me something a lot better. Annother facet to this is that many apps have massively delayed launches on Android. I bet fruit ninja put out a free version of thier app because there was already the free Fruit Slice copycat tearing up the trending charts, hell, fruit slice is still one of the top free apps.
Almost every succesful paid app on the iphone was early to market or much better than the competition. It shouldn't be a surprise that being late to market and worse/more expensive than the competition isn't a winning strategy on Android, it wouldn't be a winning strategy on the iphone either.
Why don't you buy paid apps? If you do, what's your favourite paid app?