Android users get a bad rap. They say we expect apps to be free, that we won’t pay for apps like users of other platforms will, and that consequently it’s not worth developers’ time to work on Android apps.

Let’s prove ’em wrong.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. LarvaLabs, makers of great Android apps like SlideScreen and Retro Defense (as well as a bunch of iPhone apps), posted an article on their blog recently that paints a dire picture for developers who choose Android over iPhone:

“This really indicates how much of a cottage industry the paid Android Market remains, with insufficient sales numbers to warrant full-time labor for paid content.”

Now, we can argue with them, try to pick apart the methodology they used to come to those conclusions. We may even have a point in doing so. But you know what? LarvaLabs isn’t out to get us. This is their genuine experience of developing for the two platforms. If we disagree, if we want to change their minds and attract other great developers, we need to give them the genuine experience of Android users who buy paid apps on a regular basis.

I was musing about this on Twitter yesterday with a couple other folks, and came up with an idea: let’s all take a pledge and commit to spend at least $5 a week on apps. That’s not so much, is it? How often do you drop $5 on a drink at Starbucks or a sandwich at Subway? Many of us can afford to make a commitment like this without even feeling it, but it’ll add up to more than $250 each year.

Now just doing it is great–it supports those developers who are already toiling away to make Android better–but making it known is even better, because it encourages more development.

That’s why I’m asking you to take the Paid App Pledge. Use this link to head over to Twitter and tell the world that you’re an Android user and you’re going to spend at least $5 a week in the Market. Want to pledge more? Go for it. Less is fine, too, if that’s what you can afford. (By the way, that can be paid apps or donations to developers who set things up that way. We’re all on the honor system, just make sure you’re doing your part.)

I’ll be monitoring the #PaidAppPledge hashtag to keep a running total, and then we’ll report back to let developers know how much buying power they could be getting in on. Right now, we’ve got $105 a week committed, more than $5,000 a year. That’s a good start, but let’s get a lot more!

And once you’ve taken the pledge, please help spread the word. One easy way is to just talk about the apps you’re buying each week, and keep using #PaidAppPledge when you do so.

Now, get on over to Twitter and take the pledge! And let us know in the comments, here, too, how much you spend (or plan to spend) on apps.

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  1. if there was an option to use paypal I would, I've paid for twitdroid and touiteur who offer options to pay via paypal from their sites, google has enough info about me let alone my CC it's google's biggest flaw in the market place that they force their payment method on users

    • Is that REALLY an issue? Personally i trust Google more with my money than Paypal! Anyone who has had any trouble on eBay knows how bad Paypal are. The google transaction is like any other card payment, we give our card number out every time we buy some something. Paypal is somewhat different.

      • Actually, yes, it is REALLY an issue. Google Checkout does not support my country (Saudi Arabia) and many others that have a very big purchasing power. I can't even use the market place that way except for free apps. If they offer paypal or ANY other payment option, maybe I will be able to buy some apps.

        My niece has an iPhone and I have put my CC info in her iTunes account and she buys apps without any problem. But with Android we are out of luck

  2. personally i've bought the donate version of every app that has it. but for me between that and games, I've only spent maybe $60 in total since i got my G1.

    Honestly i wouldn't mind spending more, but i just don't find many paid apps that i use. most of the apps i use are free and don't have any donate version.

    I even have a few apps that i bought and don't use anymore. ahome, lock2.0, betterkeyboard, useful swithcers, weather & toggle. replaced most with other apps. launcherpro, HTCIME, mysettings, and beautiful widgets.

    • No doubt about the graveyard of usurped apps at the bottom of my downloaded tab. I think I'm on my 4th paid or donated web browser.

    • I agree, I have only purchased a couple of apps, because to be homiest all of the apps i use are free/oss, and are superior. That is sort of why i like Android, it attracts the oss crowd. The actual users of the phones are building great apps that you don't need to pay for and you can contribute to the development of those apps.

      Why encourage anything else?

  3. I want but I can't buy in my country. I have to root my phone to buy paid app. But I don't want to root, or I don't want to use 3rd party roms. So, If google wants to increase quality applications in the market, they should allow paid apps to all countries.

  4. I understand and appreciate the sentiment. Android users are often reluctant to put down money for apps – which I why I make all my apps free.

    And as nice as the PaidAppPledge is, I wont be signing up for it. You see, I really don’t like Twitter, don’t have an account and will never have an account and I don’t want to pledge to spend money that I cannot guarantee I will spend.

  5. I would love to continue purchasing apps for my Nexus One (I have paid for many already) but before I purchase anything else, I need the developers to start modifying their apps so I can move them to the SD card. I am out of space.

    • You nailed it. I'm waiting for 4.3" screens to come out with keyboards before I upgrade my G1, and I'm perpetually out of space. Starting to give some thought to rooting it. Not supporting apps on cards was a ridiculous rookie mistake on Google's part.

    • This is not up to the developers, it's up to Google…and you. Android 2.2 will support apps2sd, but if you want it now all you have to do is root your phone and install one of the ROMs that support it now. I had apps2sd on my G1 (thanks to Cyanogenmod), and I've had it on my Droid for months.

      • I'm on a non-rooted 2.2 Nexus One and installed app2SD, but still only limited apps that can be installed on SD. It is up to the developers to make their apps movable to SD.

  6. constantly having to remove things from my phone (G1) because I've run out of room doesn't make me want to spend money on apps. Until I am able to upgrade, it makes no sense for me to purchase apps.

    • Root your phone and install Cyanogenmod…then you'll have apps2sd. A simple Google search will turn up easy instructions that will have you rooted in about ten minutes.

  7. I buy a lot of iPhone apps, but now that I have the Droid, I barely use/buy iPhone apps… but I can't buy Android apps yet, since I'm in Brazil. But I definitely can't wait to be able to, and will definitely do so, when possible!

  8. i've bought about $50 in Android apps in the last 18 months.

    i agree with Dericko; they need to implement to ability to save on the SD card. am near out of storage space.

  9. A little quirk there..
    Maybe the profit will be better if, you know, the rest of world COULD ACTUALLY BUY FROM MARKET?!

  10. Are the graphs completely incomprehensible to anyone else? I've spent 15 minutes trying to make sense of them, and I have a graduate education.

  11. Until I can move paid apps to SD and to my next phone, my app purchases will be extremely selective. These phones are moving too quickly and I refuse to be stuck on one because of my app investment, or worse, have to buy again.

    • Absolutely right. Many apps should just be mobile web sites anyway – then they'll work on any phone with a decent browser.

  12. Oh no! Please. I can't talk from all android developers but take it from one (with couple of poorly performing paid apps): I don't need a pittance! Good or bad – Market is a market so let good, old Das Kapital take care of the rest. If someone doesn't want to pay for my app it means only one thing – it's simply not worth to pay for.
    On lighter note – I noticed that it becomes a tiny bit easier to sell or get paid in general. My gut feeling we are finally deluding sophisticated tech (no way I'm paying for my apps) crowd with enough "regular" users. Thank God for little favors!

  13. That actually worked for me across 3 different devices. When I see the app I paid for using A Market I see "purchased" link instead of "pay" and can download it freely

  14. I love Slidescreen Pro and my wife is CONSTANTLY playing Retro Defense (she has an iPhone 4 but she steals my Droid to play it)

  15. There is a definite scope for improvement in the quality of majority of applications running on the Android platform. In addition, Google should also extend the access to paid apps in more countries. Users in only a few countries have access to paid apps in the android market.

  16. Ive spent more on apps for my desire and streak in a few months than i did on all the winmo and symbians ive had over the years.
    Some apps are not worth paying for, but the ones that are i will buy. The only issue is that Androids low prices do show up the outrageously priced ported apps from other platforms. Im not sure Android can support $20 apps

  17. I would love to take the paid app pledge but my droid is full on internal memory so until I get froyo, nobody is getting another dime from me. I already have apps that I’ve bought where I have to delete stuff to use them, its just too much of a hassle.

  18. I'd buy useful welldesigned apps if I could. But since I live in Sweden I can't. I do donate to devs of free aps I use regularly when possible though.

  19. Lets be honest here, there are not many apps on android that are worth buying. Where are all the good 3D games? Apple has a great market with very good apps, why does android still not compare with that? If developers start making apps that match up to the quality of apples apps, then they will get paid, a lot. Given android apps have gotten better, they still don’t compare to apples. Can anyone honestly disagree with that? Better applications/games = more money. Pretty simple huh?

    • The current android market is a crap. No editor, no way for promotion, and an extremely high rate of piracy.

  20. If Google made paid apps available in more countries the sales would go up. In Europe not many countries have access to paid apps at all. Very strange way of doing business.

  21. i went to larvalabs website and they have absolutely nothing i can use. i have about 10 paid apps on my cliqXT right now and alway pay for the deluxe version when available.

    i challenged them to develop a wifi calling app for android.

  22. No, you can't blame the users entirely, and in fact I'm not trying to blame them at all. I'm just saying that as users,f we perceive this as a problem, we can easily and directly do something about it.

    And remember, every paid app in the market has a 24 hour trial period.

  23. i live in a country that only allow me to browse free apps. I don't mind spending a few buck on reasonable priced app but until Google sort out this only-free-apps-for-my-country, i can understand why developers are reluctant.

  24. I don't know if there are enough apps that I'd actually want to be able to buy one a week. A couple a month maybe. I've done my bit for this week though. Just bought FlightStats and it totally rocks.

  25. I think everyone has the same theme here. GOOGLE, FIX YOUR APP MARKET! iTunes went through this and they finally listened to thier buyers and developers. The App Store has come a long ways and I think Google needs to learn from that lesson. A comprehenive market is in order. A more stable AP and engine to run games on even MORE important

  26. I’m a developer with a few small apps in the market. all bar one of my apps are free. the one that is not is £0.99p.

    I did that as an experiment. I thought, how many people will pay for my app. so I have two apps which I uploaded at the same time.

    the free one has over 1400 users (none of whom have donated)
    the paid app has 4 users.

    I have over 2000 users of all my apps, and I’ve had 1 donation.

    doesn’t give me any incentive to continue. especially as not all the comments I get on the market are nice.


  27. I would certainly take the pledge. I'm the first to say that if there is an interesting app, useful, well done app I'll be the first to buy it.

    I think the hard part is that actually spending $5 dollars a week on app is a bit difficult at the moment. Mainly, there aren't enough quality apps that I'm willing to pay and secondly, many of the apps are free.

  28. at the end of the day i still find the quality of apps higher on the iOS. if i cannot find all equivalent apps on the Android i will never switch over.

    seems the paid community is pushing harder on the iOS than the Android.

  29. Sure but can you pledge to lend me $5 a week? That makes about as much sense as buying apps whether there’s any worth actually paying for or not. Show me the quality apps I’ll show ya the money. That’s how it works.

  30. As an Android developer with a free game and one that is paid to support multiplayer, I have to say in general it is the attitudes of some using these devices that the world should be free that requires a different approach sometimes. I'm not griping about the different customers there, but it sure is hard to meet their expectations in any reasonable way. If you put ads, they gripe about ads, if you charge for only features that cost you money, they grip about that too. Just got a comment on my game that says this:

    by Kara (July 13, 2010)
    Have to buy full version to play against others. Dumb. Ill just continue my other free REAL apps.

    It is that attitude that makes it hard to make Android development pay off on our hard work.

  31. There aren't that many apps I want to buy either, so sometimes I donate again because the dev frequently updates an app I use all of the time.

  32. @Josh ..and others
    I'm not an Android developer yet, however i've been a developer for over 10years, and can tell you that those that think the entire world should be free, and that you should make great things for free for them while you barely manage to pay your bills ..honestly, ignore them, don't even talk to them ..they are NOT worth your attention & effort.

    As far as this pledge goes, i definitely wont be spending 5$/week for ???? well i don't know … I did however buy a few apps in my first 2 weeks of owning a Galaxy S (Beautiful Widgets, ATK, Launcher Pro, System Panel, App Protector, …)

    The only reason i did buy them is because i found the quality of the apps to be extraordinarily high (meaning a mix of usefulness, ergonomics, and visuals), and the price to be more than reasonable !

    Also like many said, the market needs to be accessible to everyone, not just a few countries ..but in it's current Ergonomically in-existent state ..i can't see how ppl manage to navigate it to buy things anyways.

    I had to fall back to sites like androlib, android zoom and android tapp, to find the information i needed before actually passing the line and whipping out my wallet (ratings, reviews, comments ..and all this quickly sortable).

    Another advantage that apple has over android is that many apple users have been taught from the very beginning (1st ipod) that nothing is really free (expensive phones, expensive mp3 players, drm locked down music ..etc etc), where on this side of the pond a lot of users think the world is all peace and love and all things should be free no matter how hard you worked on them…

    That said's all up to the linux/java/android/ (insert your favorite open-source here) community to show users that they are just as capable as apple to make applications that are:

    1) Useful
    2) Ergonomic
    3) Pretty
    4) Easy to use

    ..up to now most open source stuff only falls into the 1st category yeah, don't expect too many ppl to whip out their wallets :)

    I don't own any apple stuff, nor ever have ! ..but apple managed to integrate all 4 categories into their stuff ..and they are running on a free-bsd derivative !!!!!

    So come on Android ppl, show the world that you are just as capable, or even more so !

  33. $5 a week? Are you kidding me? Firstly, after the cost of the phone and the monthly plan, I do not wish to add another $20/mo or $240/yr to my phone budget. Second, There are only so many apps I will find useful, interesting or entertaining in the first place. My phone also has a limited number of space even with apps2sd or froyo apps2sd for apps.

    However, as a lover of the Android community, your blog and someone who benefits from and is grateful for the work put in by the dev community I would and do pledge to buy all my apps, pay for the unluck codes, or pro versions wherever possible and have done so with great enthusiasm and pride.

  34. I don't use twitter – or else i would definitely take the pledge. I couldn't find any other ways to access the "pledge". I regularly downloaded apps and paid for many from itunes, and when my contract came up I was eager to go to the Android OS. Since – i have given away my ipod! I love Android! I would definitely purchase just as much through the market. However, I don't purchase music from itunes, so i can't take that pledge. The only reason I haven't paid for many apps yet on Android, is for two reasons: 1) i am still getting acquainted with my OS and learning how to do things – and therefore discovering new things everywhere; 2) there are a good deal of crappy apps on the market that have been rated badly, have very vaque descriptions, have too many glitches, or not enough features, and it is hard to tell the "projects – in development" from the full release apps. If the market were to help sort the apps, so that people like me who know nothing about app development don't accidentally download something because the description is too vague.. anyhow.. blah blah I love my Android and would definitely pledge my $5 and maybe even $10 per week.. Ang

  35. I got here from an article on Android and Me. I think that it is a good idea, but I don’t even download an app a week. It has, however, encouraged me to upgrade my free apps and make donations, so I came up with this modified pledge to basically spell out what I’m willing to pledge to.

    Modified Paid App Pledge

    I, an Android user, do recognize that an app that is worth using for free is worth paying for to promote future development. As such, I do pledge the following:

    Upon using a free or trial app for up to two weeks to determine usefulness, I will either delete the app, upgrade to a paid version, or make an appropriate donation (suggested $2-$5, depending on the complexity and frequency of use).

    When making comments, I will restrict myself to constructive comments, such as suggesting areas for future improvement or noting my pleasure with the app. When deleting an app, I will not use cost to upgrade as the reason for deletion.

    When encountering a donation-based app with frequent updates, I will consider making additional donations based on quality of the app and the frequency of use.

    Exclusion to this pledge include apps that do not offer a paid version or donation option, and I understand that the majority of these apps are offered by corporate intenties, not independent developers. Such apps include banking apps, apps designed to encourage spending (i.e. Amazon Mobile, Kindle and Nook for Android), and Google apps. Additionally, I pledge that when using an app designed to encourage spending, I will not limit my use to free content.

    Finally, I understand that it is the responsibility of the individual developer to create paid upgrades and/or set up a method of donation compatible with Android users, and to offer incentives to encourage upgrades/donations (i.e. no ads, additional features) and to provide a quality of product and upgrades that are worth the price being asked. Failure to do say may result in the deletion of said app, and use of an alternate version.

  36. I would just like to say, as an Android user that I do like the paid apps, and I use to download/purchase them. However I have had my phone reset and yes I’m using the same account. But I am unable to download any of the apps I already paid for. Google makes it pretty difficult to contact them, and when you finally do they send some lame automated response that is no help at all to the issue, and doesn’t even seem like a real person actually read the email. This coupled with bad experiences with developers not helping with apps… It puts a really bad taste in your mouth about buying apps. Here I am with purchased apps already and no way to use them.

    So maybe instead of people bashing the users, they should really look into the issue, or maybe they already have and it’s just easier to say the users are cheap that our service SUCKS!

  37. As the saying goes, “Free as in speech, not beer”

    A good many android users use android because of the freedom (relative to iOS) it provides to users and developers alike. So-called “paid apps” (proprietary and secret) run counter to that; I make it a point not to use secret apps on my phone (paid or otherwise) however I WILL pay/donate to those that respect my freedom and don’t keep secrets from me.

    The problem is that most people only think about not paying money.

  38. Google makes it pretty difficult to contact them, and when you finally do they send some lame automated response that is no help at all to the issue, and doesn’t even seem like a real person actually read the email.

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