cash register photo

Photo by liewcf

A few weeks ago, I bought my first app on Google Play.  Wait?  I thought Android users don’t buy apps?  Well, what can I say, I like to break the mold.

Actually, I think I’m pretty typical for a high end Android phone owner.  I have had an Android phone since 2010–I paid hundreds of dollars for each of my phones.  My wife is a diehard iPhone owner.  At the time I purchased, she wondered why I wanted to buy an Android.  The application process for writing apps is one reason, and another is being able to write an app, on whatever computer I wanted, and install it on my phone.  Now I’m in Google’s ecosystem, and it would take a lot to pull me out of it.

Regardless, I finally bought an app!  I was looking for music on my phone, and have long been a fan of soma fm, ever since John Argo introduced me to them–about a decade ago.  Groove Salad is excellent for doing development.  I looked up their app, and it was $4.  soma fm is one of those organizations that I’ve been meaning to contribute to for years (like KGNU, they are listener supported and commercial free), but never got over the hump.

This was my chance to support the radio station which I loved!  Google made it easy–just had to enter a billing method (options included credit card, paypal, and bill to my phone account) and re-enter my password.  (Yes, I realize this was a small donation in the scheme of things.  The app has convenient links to the donation page.

So, what does this anecdote mean for people looking to make a living selling apps?

Don’t count on me, because the only app I’ve ever paid for was because it was a donation.

I had a long conversation with a friend about this and it appears to me that mobile apps are, in the vast majority of cases, complements to existing businesses, and not businesses themselves.  That was my experience at 8z as well. Being a complement is still a ginormous market, but it isn’t a goldrush for individuals.


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