Google's plan to make Android developers rich

At the 2013 Google I/O conference, the company addressed the problems with developing for Android - primarily that iOS developers are making a lot more money - and showed how it will help fix them.

Google’s Android team was clear in its appeal to developers at Google I/O 2013: Google is here to give developers the tools to build better apps and make money in the process. Canalys recently reported that the Apple App Store produced 74% of all app revenue, a key issue for Google in appealing to developers whose business models rely on paid downloads and in-app purchases. Google has introduced improvements to the Developer Console to increase developer revenue. Aligned with its revenue strategy are Google’s improvements in development tools, which aim to make it easier to develop Android apps, accommodate phone and tablet form factors, and design apps to generate international revenue.

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Google Play product manager Ellie Powers gave a presentation about new resources for Android developers at Google I/O 2013.

Google also wants to leverage Android’s international advantage over iOS. Outside of the U.S., Android has a significant market share advantage that Google can exploit in both directions. North American Android app developers who globalize their apps can find larger international markets than iOS developers. And the large international population of Android app developers can globalize their apps and sell into developed Western markets.

Ellie Powers, Product Manager for Google Play, touched on the issue of app developer revenues when she began her presentation.

"Today I’m here to tell you about five new features that we are adding to the Developer Console to help you get more users and make more money on Android."

Optimization Tips analyze how an app is performing in the Play Store and makes recommendations, such as creating a tablet version or a specific language version to increase revenue.

App Translator Service is a translation service Google has made available through the Developer Console, which developers can use to change the language used within the apps so they can be sold in international markets.

Referral and Usage Tracking incorporates Google Analytics into the Developer Console. Referral Tracking measures the conversion efficiency of each promotional channel based on Play Store views, installs, and launch metrics. Usage tracking brings Android usage metrics into the Developer Console. Integrating both of these metrics into the Developer Console eliminates an extra Google Analytics account and different user "look and feel"experience.

Revenue Graphs provide a number of different cuts on revenue production based on time and country.

Beta Testing and Staged Rollouts clearly should have been at the top of Ellie Power’s list because of the enthusiastic reception it saw from the developer crowd. New versions of an app can be alpha and beta tested using the Developer Console. The tests are limited to Google Groups and Google Plus Communities, which protect the Google Play Store production app reviews from becoming tainted with potentially negative alpha and beta experiences while providing private feedback to product teams. When beta testing of an app is complete, the production version can be distributed based on a staged percentage rollout, reducing the risk of an overlooked bug affecting the entire user base.

Tor Norbye gave the crowd a taste of Android Studio in a new integrated development environment (IDE) based on IntelliJ, a widely adopted Java IDE. Tor led into the discussion with an example of how international apps are built. After an introduction to the Symantec features of Android Studio and a demonstration of the rendering and previewing of an app on multiple phone and tablet form factors, he closed with a demonstration of rendering an app in eight different languages into eight simulations so the developer could optimize the layout for different-sized text strings, a time-consuming manual process without Android Studio.

Google clearly stated to app developers at this I/O that it is attentive and committed to helping them develop apps more efficiently and make more money with Android. It is leveraging Android’s international advantage over iOS to generate global app revenues, while helping to grow the Google Play revenues it shares with Android developers.

Android Studio has not been released yet, but its name offers a promising future. It reminds me of Microsoft’s Visual Studio for building Windows apps. Developers who love and hate Microsoft are in agreement: Visual Studio is an incredible IDE for teams of developers to develop software efficiently. If Android Studio achieves a level development productivity near that of Visual Studio, Google will win the hearts and minds of mobile app developers.

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