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How to make money with Android – business models

March 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm | android, blog, monetizing | 44 comments


Mark Murphy has been writing really interesting posts in Android guys about the different business models around Android platform. We have chosen the most relevant ones adding some additional information:

  • Build the app and sell it via the Android Market
  • Give a free app, supported by ads (Adsense mobile, Admob, etc.)
  • Give a free app, sell the customizations: plugins, analytics, additional features, account (e.g. RTM, Spotify), etc.
  • Sell development tools: GUI toolkits, portability tool, …
  • Develop custom applications for others (e.g. Droiders)
  • Became a trainer of Android development
  • Specialize in porting iPhone, Windows Mobile, J2ME applications to Android.
  • Promote your ability to port some critical parts of the apps to the Android Native Development Kit (NDK)
  • Became an specialist building cross-platform apps using HTML, Javascript and CSS (e.g. PhoneGap, Titanium, Rhodes)
  • Became an expert to build apps with GPS and backend capabilities of HTML 5.
  • Build an App Generator (e.g. ePUB, RSS, audiobooks) selling this generated apps.
  • Became a specialist building Augmented Reality Layers for Layar or Wikitude

Mark has done an incredible job posting these business models, you can read the different post for more information (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

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44 Comments to “How to make money with Android – business models”

  1. I loved this article!!! Credit!

  2. majority of android apps are free as compared to iphone apps. this makes it more challenging to make a profit but not impossible.

  3. Sarah Mullen says:

    We’ve just launched a service that helps Android developers monetize apps, thought it might be useful –

  4. Another option would be to work with device manufacturers (like our android tablets at to pre-install software on our devices as a value upgrade for customers.

    The profits per Android tablet pc sold may be less than that of individual sales on the official Apps market, but if you have a small library of basic games and entertainment software this could be packaged and sold as a suite an potentially licensed on a profit sharing model.

  5. Excellent read, I just passed your post onto a colleague who was trying to locate more info on this exact topic. I’ll ask him tomorrow if it was any use to him. Thanks.

  6. Maybe now I can put my droid eris to use!

  7. ~.’ I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information *~-

  8. cool journal. Offered me a superior perception of the particular marketplace. Regards partner

  9. philtheloser says:

    I have developed 5 android apps for the market till now.

    None of them have been downloaded more than 15 times.

    The cost and trouble to develop them far exceeded the paltry amount I got from them.

    Worked hard for a couple of months searching for ideas and implementing them on those apps and now I have made enough to buy my dog Silky a box of dog biscuits.

    I have quit Android development for good now.

    But for some reason my dog doesnt look too happy.

  10. waytofreedom123 says:

    make some money

  11. Danny Hill says:

    Most Android apps are on the free and supported by ads model. Seems most popular with app developers.

  12. Remember, do not develop paid apps for Android. It is a Google product, how Google makes revenue, mainly via Ads. So, follow the same path, develop free Apps, sign up for AdSense or AdMob, inject Ads in to your App(not too many), and become rich! All the best!

  13. Anyone know of any good websites to find a small-med sized business for sale?

  14. Zhelyazko says:

    philtheloser, it’s not only making a good app and publishing it – well, you may have the luck and get a decent amount of downloads, but in the vast amount of apps on the market you should find a way to promote your app. I’ve just released a small discount calculator – Discount Me!, about a week ago and it has 50-60 downloads on the Android market and about 100 on SlideMe and I’ve done almost nothing to promote it. It’s strange that your apps got only 15 downloads. Can you mention their names so that I can take a look at them? :)

    Now talking on the article – probably it is worth mentioning that one of the main reasons for having so many free Apps in the market is because developers from few countries can publish paid apps. Many countries are not yet in the “Green” list, especially ones from eastern europe and India, where there are many developers.

    On the other hand, if Google broadens the list of supported paid countries, (but even it doesn’t) there should be some control over uploaded apps, otherwise it will(is) getting flooded with a lot of useless, totally low quality apps (and if green list is broaden these apps will be paid). Probably not more than 5% of the apps in the market are good ones – with nice design and functionality.

    But here comes the other thing – if Google let’s developers from much more countries to upload paid apps, the ratio free/paid content on the market will change a lot and may become like the Apple App store. But users got used to the free content (some of them are even mad why the dev has put an ad in the app) and at first most of them probably will be frustrated. Some will look for pirate copy, but I guess most of them sooner or later will start paying for the apps.

    I think that the best model is having a free version of the app, supported by ads, having a “pro” version, which has no ads and maybe some additional functionality. In that way the user could choose which one to use. The user could also make some profit for you first using the free version, clicking some ads and later on going for the paid one.

  15. Tyler E says:

    Along the same lines as philtheloser, I recently spent a good bit of time developing an app for Android. I made a Free version and a Pro version in order to give users a choice.

    I’m certain that my app is of high quality, and that there is a demand for these kind of apps, yet to date I have only 6 active installs on the Android market, what gives?

    If you are interested in checking it out the url is

    Any suggestions for improvement are greatly appreciated!
    Thank you,
    Tyler E

  16. @Tyler E: I’d bet that the main reason why your Tea Timer application is not very successful is that you have a fair amount of competitors for such a specific niche.

    When I search for “tea” in the Android Market, yours appears way too far for anyone to find it (second page).

    If I were you, I’d work a little bit on the rankings: play with the keywords, the application name, etc. That should take very little time.

    Then, if your application suddenly starts to gain some traction (it’d be great), invest into it, push some features out there, do some updates.

    Otherwise, ise what you’ve learned and the experience you’ve gained (was this your first app?) to start planning your next project! Maybe a brand new one, or maybe you can pivot your application into a new one about timing for other cooking-related tasks…

    For the first apps, focus on having fun, learning, and getting the experience. The money is the next step.

    And I agree, it is of high quality.

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  18. Dustin says:

    Leadbolt normally pays on a monthly basis, however, they have an option for an Early Payment which cost 20% of your earnings up to the time of the request.

    My mother was hospitalized, so I made an Early Payment request assuming that Leadbolt would follow their policy, and deliver my payment “on the nearest possible Monday after the request has been approved”, thus, allowing me to go see my critical mother in the hospital.

    However, after contacting Leadbolt about my Early Payment was told this:

    “Thank you for contacting LeadBolt. Early payment requests are generally processed on each Monday and are completely processed within 12-24 hours from the current time. However, our finance team is currently completing a full reconciliation with our largest advertisers for this month to ensure all traffic is accounted for, legitimate and compliant and this has not been completed yet.

    This process is usually completed immediately before early payments are due, however due to an increase in traffic last week; our team is still working to complete these reconciliations and will not be able to process early payments until tomorrow.”

    So basically, they charged me a 20% fee for the early payment which won’t be delivered on time, and prevented me from seeing my mother in the hospital as expected!! All because they think their “largest advertiser” is more important! Like they couldn’t simply submit the $130 payment to me real quick so I can see my critical mother!

    There is way better companies out there that care for their clients more then this. For instance, Airpush is awesome to work with. So is SendDroid.


    I’m so fed up with this company! I am moving the apps I have with them over to other companies starting tonight while my mother sits in the hospital awaiting my arrival.

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