Friday, 14 August 2009

I’m a published Android developer…

It’s true. I am. 

A few months ago, I did a little experiment with a “Hello World” application.  Working here at Symbian, it was interesting to get a taste of the development experiences across a couple of other platforms.  Of course, what you can learn by writing a “Hello World” application is limited – but then again so is my ability to write code these days, so I’m not the right person to judge the ease of coding for that platform anyway…

Part of this experiment was to see how easy it is to get your application to market, and I decided to publish my Hello World application up on the Android Market – just to see how easy it is to do.

I published it and foolishly forgot to un-publish it.  And that’s when the madness started.

I should explain – my application displays a graphic (the Symbian Heart Logo, in fact) in the centre of the screen and nothing more. Literally nothing more.  My application has no functionality.

To emphasise this fact, when I published it on the Android Market I wrote in the release notes - “Please don't download and install this application, as it doesn't actually do anything other than display a picture.”

Whether through curiosity of why there’s an application displaying a Symbian Logo published for Android or the same bloody-mindedness which forces people to touch a surface marked “wet paint” just to check my application was downloaded.  A lot.

At the time of writing, the application was published for a week or so at first, and then republished during an internal presentation.  So it’s been up and down for a while. 

So how many people have downloaded this?  Well currently it stands at 1059 downloads with 102 active installs.  Cool, eh?

If you want to find the application on your G1, it’s not that easy – it’s buried in the “demo” section of the market several screens-worth of scrolling down – yet over 1000 people have found it, and over 100 of them still have it on their phones.

But that’s not the weird part.  So far, we can explain this all away by invoking mention of natural curiosity.

The second most weird thing about this little tale is the volume of email I’m still receiving about this application.  In fact, writing in here was prompted by the three emails I received overnight saying “I love your application. Can you tell me how to use it please?”.  Mostly I reply to polite point out that it’s only a “Hello World” application and doesn’t actually do anything – but I’m very tempted to conduct a small email survey amongst those who’ve downloaded the application to find out why they downloaded it, and what they expected it to do given the clear message in the release notes.

But the weirdest thing is yet to come.  Of the 1000+ downloads, 79 people have given a rating to my application.  And the rating – well it’s currently sitting at 4 out of 5.  I won’t even try to explain that.

So – what do I make of all this?  Well firstly, it’s obvious that people with Android phones do download and install applications – for 1000 of them to have found this anonymous little thing and installed it there must be many multiples of that who install the useful and popular applications.  But on the flip-side, I can’t help feeling that if 1000 people will download and install an application which does nothing, that may indicate a paucity of the “useful and popular” applications to get the attention of users before they get to applications like mine at the bottom.

But the biggest conclusion I’ve come to so far is that I really should’ve charged £1 for my application and made some money out of it ;-)

2 comments:

  1. A better conclusion might be that techies who own android phones, and it's only techies who like them by the way, will (a) try anything out, and (b) never admit their ignorance/failure.

    ps one day you kids will accept that people just want phones for voice calls and texting...

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  2. It would be interesting to extend the experiment... Release a pro version with two images for $0.99, and see how it goes.

    But hey, in a world where Seinfeld's "show about nothing" wa so popular, why are we so surprised at the success of an app that does nothing?

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