Pretty well the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd questions that we fielded regarding Pocket Rocket went like this: Why isn’t there an Android version?
The answer is, because there is no appreciable Android market. Let me explain what makes a market: people willing to buy, the ability to complete a transaction, and people willing to sell. Spoiler: All three points = FAIL.
1. Are people willing to buy? A long-time inspiration, Philip Greenspun says, in a net pro-Android analysis, “in nearly 2.5 years of using Android daily, [I have] never purchased an application.” Philip has his fuck-you money. He can buy any app he feels like without thinking twice. And still, he hasn’t bought a single one, more or less since Android shipped.
2. Are people able to close a purchase? Have you seen the nightmare that is Google Checkout in Canada? Developers hoping to offer in-app purchase have to create a US corporation so they can run Google checkout transactions. News flash: Many of us have better things to do.
3. Do developers see an incentive? I am loath to give our esteemed competitors airtime, but Rocket Radar has been the victim of a sleazy knockoff in the Android Market. They are truly the only game in town on the Android app store, and yet the sleazy knockoff that is TTC Radar has one rating (four stars) among their less-than-fifty installs.
The answers, for Canadian developers, with Canadian users, aiming at a market for Candians, is no on all counts.
Let me be clear: We could write an Android app. My partner Bill has sucked up the misery that is figuring out how to develop for that platform. I know Java to the point where it bores me. I have a handful of offers from Indian and East-European firms to take our code and port it over for under a thousand bucks. And even so, the best vendors in the Android market aren’t able to manage more than 50 installs.
There just isn’t a viable business in the Android market unless you are a port of a multi-million-install game or social-networking app on iOS, and even then, I’m not sure it matters. Apple iPhone and iPod touch owners are inured to buying new features through the App Store and in-app purchase. They really, genuinely, don’t mind. Apple has returned a billion dollars a year, roughly, to developers. How many cheques has Google cut?
Let me put it another way. If anyone feels like making an Android version of our app, using our source code, algorithms, original artwork, and blessing: we will take you up on it. Our price is a really nice night out on the town for myself and my three partners.