Why Won’t Android Users Pay for Apps?

A study by IHS states that the Android Market grew by 861% in 2010. Of course most of that can be attributed to  the surge in Android device sales, but the growth of Android app sales isn’t as impressive as it might sound. While Android rivals iOS in terms of device sales, the Android market makes up less than 5% of the global app marke, putting Android app sales in last place. That’s behind Nokia’s Ovi Store, BlackBerry App World and of course Apple’s App Store.

Android users are premium wireless users by any standard. They dole out extra cash for their devices and for monthly data service. So why don’t they spend a dollar or two spontaneously like so many iOS users do?

Over the weekend I went out to dinner with a group of friends. One of them had just bought a Droid Incredible, though she said she really wanted to get an iPhone 4 from a Verizon store. She said that she couldn’t justify the extra $100 and didn’t want to spend a lot of money on apps. She likes the Droid Incredible a lot more than her old feature phone, but isn’t 100% satisfied as she’s still learning her way around Android.

So what’s up Android users? Why aren’t you paying up for apps in Android Market?  Do you think Android’s revenue share will grow as more mainstream consumers opt for Android ?

via KnowYourMobile

Comments

  1. Michael Anderson says

    I have paid for business-related apps and a couple of utilities, and even a couple of games. But for me the bottom line is that every game is better and cheaper on iOS.

  2. Benjamin Voigt says

    I have paid for apps on each of my Android devices and will so again. BUT I’m not willing to pay for crap – and I paid for a lot of crap in the iTunes app store on my iPod Touch 4G – so if there is a free trial version I’ll take the app to a test run and see if it does what I want it to do. I’ve even canceled paid apps inside the trial time.

    On the other hand I gladly pay for a great app, even when the advertisements in the free one or not bothering me at all.

    But to be honest, I strongly believe that business models like Evernote’s are the way to go. Release a free frontend, offer a free basic service, charge recurringly for a full featured premium service.

  3. Mobilechrisd says

    I’d say it’s due to Android attracting the Open Source crowd.

    This demographic is not use to paying for applications.

    Cd

    • Xavier Lanier says

      I certainly understand that slice of the Android market, but the platform went mainstream in 2010. There aren’t as many Open Source fanboys out in the real world as the Interwebs would lead you to believe.

    • Tiredofallthisshite says

      I’d say, most definitely. Besides the fact that many people don’t want to “throw money away” on apps – I’d rather buy something else with my money

  4. Jh41n says

    I first owned an Iphone but now have an Android. I bought 2 or 3 apps on the iphone but only 1 on the android. The Iphone is a thing of beauty and adding apps was a breeze. It’s always fun to show off your new apps on the iphone. My android phone is nice and very functional, but its nothing to get excited about nor anything I’d feel like showing off to friends. There’s an Iphone club out there and it’s a pretty cool club to be in. In the android club, no ones really THAT excited about their phone and probably don’t care to invest any more money in it.

  5. Wazupwiturface says

    I’m under the impression that if someone buys a crappy app off of apple you are stuck with the purchase. Google gives you a refund window which would result in a SLIGHT decrease in sales.

    I’m also under the impression that apple is getting a % of app sales and google does not. I wonder if people love apple that much but that’s a scary thought…

    How many iphones, all the previous models included are currently in service…and how many android devices?

  6. Wazupwiturface says

    I’m under the impression that if someone buys a crappy app off of apple you are stuck with the purchase. Google gives you a refund window which would result in a SLIGHT decrease in sales.

    I’m also under the impression that apple is getting a % of app sales and google does not. I wonder if people love apple that much but that’s a scary thought…

    How many iphones, all the previous models included are currently in service…and how many android devices?

  7. Wazupwiturface says

    I’m under the impression that if someone buys a crappy app off of apple you are stuck with the purchase. Google gives you a refund window which would result in a SLIGHT decrease in sales.

    I’m also under the impression that apple is getting a % of app sales and google does not. I wonder if people love apple that much but that’s a scary thought…

    How many iphones, all the previous models included are currently in service…and how many android devices?

  8. Anonymous says

    The biggest put-off for me is the market and the payment implementation. In the UK, unless your App is sold in UK Sterling you get charged a £1.80 bank charge, even if the app is 69p.
    Until this is sorted out I will get by on freemium apps. I’m not giving the banks a penny.

      • Manringj says

        The only time I bought an app on my EVO, my bank put a fraud hOld on my account because it was processed in Euros. Not a big deal to fix, but a pain. A lot of the paid apps in the market are in foreign (to the US) currencies. The experience soured me on the market, and i’m sure many of the users browsing the market are confused or not comfortable with prices in foreign currencies.

        This isn’t an issue on iOS devices, at least in the US.

  9. John says

    I live in Chile and the Galaxy Tab is selling well here. Though we can use the Market it is only for free apps so far. It seems that this is the case in a lot of countries. We cannot even get Kindle via Android. It is not on the Market. I had to download it from Handango.

    Of course you can buy apps for the iPad in Chile.

  10. quillaja says

    Why pay for apps when there are lots of good free ones out there that do the job? I’ve only needed a handful of apps, and I’ve always found free ones that do the job.

  11. Garysturn says

    iPhone owners pay for quality. Android users are looking for bargins, that is why they settled for an Android. Open source folks are cheapskates.

    • adam says

      Haha yeah they pay for quality :P more like they pay to be in the trendy “I have an Iphone” club which is only cool to Iphone users.

      Also, you can’t speak for all Android users. Some may buy certain models because they are cheaper but Android currently has phones that outperform the Iphone (oh and they certainly aren’t cheap.)

  12. Garysturn says

    iPhone owners pay for quality. Android users are looking for bargins, that is why they settled for an Android. Open source folks are cheapskates.

  13. Anonymous says

    4 Reasons. The first two are perfectly fair. The latter two are bad decisions or poor management on the OHA’s part.

    1) Try before you buy. I’ll bet this costs dev lots of sales.

    2) Quality of apps. The number of apps worth paying for is still quite low. Especially compared to the Apple’s App Store. Once you get apps on par with iOS, people will pay for them.

    3) Universal availability of paid apps. Google only offers paid apps in one third of the countries that Apple does.

    4) Memory. This has really limite me personally. Lots of apps don’t offer app2SD yet. Yet, my Nexus One has a little over half a gig of onboard memory. And a ton of that goes to the OS, updates for pre-installed apps and rather critical apps that I need (Facebook, Skype, etc.). This leaves little opportunity to get things like games.

  14. Anonymous says

    4 Reasons. The first two are perfectly fair. The latter two are bad decisions or poor management on the OHA’s part.

    1) Try before you buy. I’ll bet this costs dev lots of sales.

    2) Quality of apps. The number of apps worth paying for is still quite low. Especially compared to the Apple’s App Store. Once you get apps on par with iOS, people will pay for them.

    3) Universal availability of paid apps. Google only offers paid apps in one third of the countries that Apple does.

    4) Memory. This has really limite me personally. Lots of apps don’t offer app2SD yet. Yet, my Nexus One has a little over half a gig of onboard memory. And a ton of that goes to the OS, updates for pre-installed apps and rather critical apps that I need (Facebook, Skype, etc.). This leaves little opportunity to get things like games.

  15. Roberto says

    I’ll throw in my 2 cents (1 of them to Apple hahaha). To the poster who commented about the I-phone club. I have noticed this that I-phone people (and I am generalizing of course) seem to enjoy showing each other and anyone else around them their little device, which is fine, but I think android people may not do this so much because 2 reasons, 1. if an I-phone person is around they won’t look or listen about your android phone anyway so why bother, & 2. I don’t think most android users define themselves by their device. An Android phone is a tool to do stuff and that’s it.
    To answer the article question why won’t Android Users pay for app, I would say, why should I? It seems to me every time someone wants to do something on an I-phone you have A. go through I-tunes, & B. pay Apple to do it. I am not sure why people would put up with this. To use a case in point, there is an Android app called Pinout which gives you pin configurations for various cables. It’s free on Android, but it is a pay app on I-tunes (at least as of last weekend according to an I-phone user) I have no idea why it is like this. I would probably spend a buck to buy, but it is nice that I don’t have to. And to be honest I don’t really care about Google’s revenue stream. My revenue stream is a lot more important to me and the less I have to put out the better. Besides Google is going to make its money off ads anyway so maybe there isn’t the same push to have paid apps like Apple which is making it’s money off of the paid app. So really to me there is two different ways the Google & Apple are going to make money. Apple needs you to buy apps to keep the money flowing in, where as Google doesn’t need it as much (not that they wouldn’t want it though). Also Google puts out a bunch of free apps themselves. Take Navigation & maps for instance. They could probably charge for it if they wanted & I am sure a lot of people would buy it, but it’s free. So if the company that creates the OS is pumping out free stuff, that’s probably the way it’s going to go. So if you want to call me cheap, go ahead I guess. The more I-phone users, the shorter the line at the bank. Just watching my revenue stream. hahaha.

  16. Paulmphoto says

    Why pay when most of the best apps are free? Games on the small screen get old fast why not just play those that are free or play flash games online that are free? Bottom line we don’t pay for apps because we don’t have to.

  17. JKB2 says

    I’m an android user, techie since the early 90’s. I think that android is now just coming into it’s own. iOS has been in service for quite awhile now. Balmer himself stated that, in his opinion, android will overtake iOS in time.

    You’re seeing the first wave of implementation. In time, android will develop, apps will become more sophisticated and sell. My brother has an iPhone, my uncle has been an AAPL fan since Apple II, he has the newest iPhone each generation!

    Both have told or showed me their apps, their phone. Nice, but do you use them often? Brother confessed he became an app junkie, like buying a toy every week (or more) but then realized he didn’t need or use half the crap. Uncle was more cautious, read reviews, bought what he needed if it worked well.

    I think the iPhone craze was just that, a craze. Like the iPod which in time became ho hum….

    Apple is good at making some amazing tech, just bad at letting outsourcing develop it. This is no different than the P.C. vs Mac wars. With lower entry points and open source, android will soon get higher percentages of users and software purchases. IMO

  18. Tkcesario says

    I had an iphone for two years and loved it. Recently upgraded to an android phone! The open source offers so many great apps for free, and many can actually improve the functionality of my phone. I will never go back to the proprietary demands of apple. Apples slogan of think different now requires you to stop thinking, and I think that is something google has only inspired.

  19. Pwilson says

    I got my android phone last November and there have been a few apps that I’d probably be willing to pay for. But having to create a google checkout account and the issue with the bank charges (I’m in the UK) is putting me off. Until those are sorted I don’t think I’ll be buying any apps.

  20. Anomymous says

    I couldn’t see anyone of you who were thinking about the poor developer who would like to have some money to go on with further app development.

    I hope every free app are going to disappear now from the Market!

Leave a Reply