Gameloft’s finance director Alexandre de Rochefort recently stirred up controversy by saying that the company planned to cut back on developing games for Android because there wasn’t enough money in it. He also said “many” other developers were doing the same. Now, comes survey data from Skyhook Wireless that backs up de Rochefort’s statements.
Skyhook is a location-based mobile tech firm, which developers use its platform to build location-aware features into their apps. The company surveyed
over 30 mobile app developers, finding that nearly 60 percent of them are “not satisfied” with their Android profits to date. Market fragmentation, poor store design and a lack of new app discovery tools were also primary concerns. While not a huge sample size, developers like James Grafton, co-creator of the picture-sharing app PicSwap, said he’s going to “take a step back from Android and reconsider our efforts.”
So why aren’t Android app developers making money? The vast majority (82 percent) of respondents said it was because Android Market was poorly designed — making it difficult for users to find apps. (It’s worth noting that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) faced similar issues through a number of App Store redesigns). But a problem that’s unique to Android is that people need to use Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Checkout to buy apps, and 43 percent of developers surveyed said they’d make more money if Android supported carrier billing, or even just a simpler billing platform. Meanwhile, Android doesn’t seem to be as ad-friendly as Apple’s latest OS update; only 10 percent of Android developers are currently serving ads.
The developers Skyhook surveyed also viewed market fragmentation as a looming problem. With so many new Android handsets primed for launch, nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said that multiple versions of Android would make future development more difficult. “We simply can’t afford to test across all Android phones,” Grafton said, in a statement. Link to the full report (pdf) is here.