Monday, March 30, 2009

Android (G1) Market Model: Low-volume Low-cost?

I absolutely love developing for the Android platform, I've never felt this way about any other platform. But what if that just isn't enough; In a market where the 'Top 100 Most Popular Games' doesn't contain a single paid game, is there money to be made? Is the userbase sufficient and willing enough to support a developer? is the Market growing fast enough to contribute to ongoing revenues? Here are my frank and open findings based on 3 applications I've made available in the Market over the past 6 weeks:

Case 1 - Shoot the Ducks

Shoot the Ducks is a simple game that's quick to play and looks pretty good. First round is based on the classic 'Duck Hunt', then second round is target practise and then skeet shooting, etc... It took 12-24 hours to developer and I launched it into the Market at a discounted rate for the first 100 installs of £0.50, increasing to £0.79 after that.

Revenues after all fees
Day 1 - £32.94
Day 2 - £36.70
Day 3 - £28.65
Day 4 - £15.60
Day 5 - £6.05
Day 9 - £3.30
Day10 - £6.80
Total so far £144.99

Lesson 1
As expected there is an intial peak while the game is in the top 10 Most Recent games. What wasn't expected was an ongoing revenue stream of around £5.00 per day after the app had dropped down the charts. Slow and steady with Low-volume Low-cost. If this revenue keeps up as new Android devices are launched, takeup increases and paid Markets open in other countries, there is hope yet.

An optimistic model would show a developer with 10 games in the Market averaging £5 per day per app. Multiplying that up you have £50 per day, £1500 per month, £18250 per year. I appreciate that isn't up to the standards of some of the iPhone Appstore stories, but it is better than a kick in the nuts for a months work. Of course it still remains to be seen whether 'Shoot the Ducks' is still generating revenue outside of its first month.

Case 2 - Ultimate Stopwatch & Timer

This didn't take too long to build approx 8-12 hrs, but it was designed to be and is regarded as the best Stopwatch / Timer in the Market. I orginally launched it for £0.50. After 2 weeks there had been 12 installs and 8 uninstalls, uninstalling an Android Market application in the first 24 hours results in a full refund. So total revenue after fees was about £1.50.
Not entirly happy with this outcome I decided I may as well make the application free and see what happens. Well what happened next suprised me, the application had 1000+ installs a day for the next few days and is currently at 13031 installs of which 10623 are still installed.

Lesson 2
There were other, very plain stopwatchs in the Market. If there is an app in the store which provides similar functionality to yours for lower cost, then the current G1 userbase won't pay for a nicer UI. However there is a strong demand for free high quality applications, unsuprisingly. Also highlighted by the 37027 installs of another of my free apps, Newton's Cradle.

Case 3 - Latitude Enabler for Root

There is a long and drawn out story behind this application. Check some of my previous Latitiude posts for details. But to nutshell it, T-Mobile UK barred Google Latitude on the T-Mobile G1 in the UK. I discovered a way to reenable it, but the fix only worked if you had "rooted" your G1 (the G1 equivalent to jailbreaking an iPhone, and hilarious to anyone from Austrailia)

Lesson 3
It turns out that G1 owners are a bunch of hackers. There are a lot of 'rooted' G1 phones out there and these guys are more likely to be techies and will pay for useful apps like Wifi Sharing, tethering, VPNs, etc...

In conclusion...
The Android Market is turning around. Paid games are climbing up the charts and I reckon we'll see a paid game break into the top 100 Most Popular Games within the next month. G1 users were slightly spoiled by apps being releassed for free, as payments weren't available in the Market from launch. But users are quickly getting used to the fact that premium content comes at a premium price and are prepared to pay. Developers are settling on relatively low price points, although similar to those found on the iPhone, to try and drive their apps up the Most Popular listings, as that is where the holy grail of seeing 250,000+ installs resides. Top paid games are currently struggling to get 5,000 installs. I'm holding out a lot of hope for some key improvements being made to the Market over the coming months, not least of all a proper website for browsing the apps.

Until then I'll try to exploit the potential of the slow and steady low-volume low-cost model by creating and launching some more quality Android games.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gadgetshow Flashmob

The Gadgetshow presenters have been testing their abilities to get flashmob's together using different tools. Jason was only allowed to use Twitter and Susie (subs'ed very ably by Gail Porter as Susie was ill, get well soon Susie) used Facebook.

On the day the twitter crowd won out by a large margin, I'm guessing around 150 in the twitter crowd compared to about 15 in the Facebook crowd.

A dance off ensued, all good fun, catch the show on Channel 5 on Monday 27th April at 8:00pm.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Re-enabling Latitude on your rooted UK T-Mobile G1

UPDATE: 10th March 2009 - I've released an application to do all this for you automatically now, it only works on ROOTED G1's and it is availabe in the Android Marketplace as 'Latitude Enabler for Root' and also on GoogleCode latitude_launcher.apk

Original Post:
This has all got out of hand now, I became so frustrated with the Latitude situation on my UK RC9 T-Mobile G1 that I resorted to underhand techniques to re enable latitude on it after it disappeared again.

Google Maps is checking for a value in the gservices table, it checks that "maps_enable_friend_finder" has a value of "1". If it is then it shows the Latitude options in the Maps menu.

I added this value into the table on my rooted RC9 G1 and Latitude reappeared. I'll knock up an App today or tomorrow which resets this value and launches Google Maps, so that latitude is always enabled. If you want to do it for yourself now and you're braver than some and happy with words like adb and sql then you need to:

1) Connect your Rooted G1 to your PC via USB and run 'adb shell' (or use the G1 Terminal App no the phone)
2) su
3) cd /data/data/
4) sqlite3 settings.db
5) .dump gservices (to see all your current settings and check if maps_enable_friend_finder already exists)
6) INSERT INTO "gservices" (name,value) VALUES('maps_enable_friend_finder','1');
7) .quit
8) exit

Now the Join Latitude button will be shown in Maps again, no need for a reboot.

If it doesn't appear make sure you have the values
<boolean name="FF_SHOWN" value="true" />
<boolean name="SHOW_MY_FRIENDS" value="true" />

in the file /data/data/

hope it works and helps some of you out there. I'm off to write an app to do this automatically now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Google Latitude on T-Mobile UK G1 RC9 my final solution

7th March 2009 - UPDATE: After a couple of days and reboots Latitude has managed to disable itself again on my G1. Now looking for ways to either reset Google Maps and Latitude to their original state or find a different fix.....

OK I was about to post a blog post (now attached to the end of this one as a 'what not to do'), thinking that all my G1 Latitude problems were solved, but I checked and Latitude had returned to its disabled state. Instead I've found a much better solution here. This has worked for me and I'm now running a version of RC9 which has Latitude enabled. You do need to get root access to your device before you can do this, so the steps are:

1) follow these instructions to get root access on your G1
2) follow this guide to install this updated JF RC9 firmware without a sim in the phone.

and Robert's your Father's brother, you'll end up with this:

And for posterity here is what NOT to do:
Some people across the digital sphere have been claiming that Latitude has been working for them on the UK G1, personally I still have nada. So I've decided to take action and hook my G1 up with JesusFreke's UK RC9 firmware. This is a hacked firmware that first requires you to gain root access on your G1. Also there were reports of Latitude not working on that either, so I went to the US RC33 firmware first, oh and to get root access you first have to downgrade your phone to RC7. So 3 firmwares later I finally have Latitude running on a UK G1 with RC9, was it worth it? of course not, but if you fancy trying it, it takes about an hour and of course I take no responsibility for borked phones:

1) follow these instructions to get root access on your G1
2) Install JF RC33 firmware
3) You should have a UK device running US RC33 firmware now, check that latitude is running. Now you could choose to leave your G1 in this state, personally I didn't like the US formatting of the phone numbers, too many hyphens, and my phone became unstable when opening and closing the keyboard. So I decided to continue to the UK firmware.
4) Download the JF RC9 firmware and rename it to and place it in the root of your SD Card.
5) Download JFUpdater and install it on your G1. Easiest way is to go to on your G1.
6) Run JFUpdater and choose to install the that it finds on your SD card.

These are the steps I followed and as I say I now have a UK G1 running RC9 firmware with Latitude and the latest marketplace running.

Note: after a couple of reboots Latitude has disappeared, not happy. Question is do I go back to RC33 or not.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

T-Mobile UK G1 updated to Firmware RC9 ( no latitude or voice search? )

The news of the latest UK firmware for the T-Mobile G1 has been spreading across the internet this morning. So I put my brave hat on, downloaded the firmware file from here and got on with the update.

A few different sites have published the guide to manually upgrading your G1, it goes like this:

  1. Grab the RC9 update from here

  2. Rename it to, and place it in the root of your Micro SD

  3. Turn off your G1, then turn it back on by holding the Home+End (House key + On key) keys until you see an icon popup after the T-Mobile G1 logo.

  4. From the icon screen, open the keyboard and hit Alt+L. This will display the log saying what is happening

  5. Now press Alt+S to begin the update. Remember, the update needs to be in the root of the Micro SD card and needs to be named

  6. Once it finishes, just follow the onscreen instructions and press Home+Back to finish.

  7. The G1 will reboot a few times, showing various different icons, flashing different parts of the firmware. Be patient

If all went well, you should now be running the latest update, RC9. To make sure all your hard work wasn’t for nothing, hit Menu > Settings > About Phone > scroll to Build Number. You should see RC9 at the bottom.

So what do I have that is new? Firstly and most disappointingly I can't seem to get Google Latitude working, Google Maps launches but there are no obvious latitude options :-( If I go in the browser to it says I have it and offers to launch it, but then Google Maps just launches. I'll double check this later and see if I can figure it out.

Secondly I now have the updated Marketplace, it tells me when updates for my apps are available.
Thirdly there is a new icon called 'Sim Toolkit' offers services from the operator like Horoscopes and football scores, I can't see that I'll ever use this.

Fingers crossed I can get latitude working as that was my main reason for the upgrade, there is some hope as Google thinks I have it installed. If I do I'll update this post.