Android Income Report #4

At long last, here is my income report for the month of July. This is a very different story to previous reports, mainly thanks to my Google+ Invites app which made a few hundred dollars in one day. I also released a major update for Tap That! Number, and published a new app (CPU Usage Live Wallpaper) with both free and paid versions. It was a pretty hectic month! Read on for more details, and an overview of the month’s earnings.

Tap That! Number v3.0

Tap That! Number for AndroidTap That! Number was the first Android app I ever released, and also the first game I’ve ever written for any device. For this reason, it wasn’t the most polished game out there by any means. After a few months of developing Android apps I felt that I’d gained enough experience to take another look at the user interface in particular. So I set out to completely redesign the app, and add a few new features in the process.

I kept the same basic layout, but used themes to apply an individual style to each UI element(buttons, labels, etc.). A little style really goes a long way. It’s amazing how much difference it made to simply add a background image. After changing the background, and blending the tile colours a little (using #eee & #333 instead of #fff & #000 for example) the difference was radical. I showed both versions of the app to my family, and they immediately preferred the new version.

In addition to the user interface changes, I added a couple of features that people had requested by email. An options menu now allows you to turn vibrations on & off, or restart the game if you’ve lost the flow of things. According to Google Analytics, the restart button is used for about 15% of visits.

CPU Usage Live Wallpaper

Android Live Wallpaper

CPU Usage Live Wallpaper PRO (green showing low CPU load, this would fade into orange or red under higher load)

I’ve been promising for a while to release a paid app on the Android Market, in order to gauge the results compared with the free apps I’ve released. So this month I released my first freemium app – a live wallpaper which depicts the current CPU usage as a color (from green to red).

It’s a pretty simple concept. The idea came to me one day, when looking for CPU monitor apps – why can’t I just show the CPU usage on my wallpaper? I couldn’t find any other apps that presented this info in a subtle way, so decided to write my own.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I think it’s very important when developing an app that you have a strong understanding of the target audience. Clearly the best way to connect with your target audience would be to develop an app that is designed for you. That is, you are the target audience (and people like you). Unless you use the app on a daily basis, you’ll never come across the same issues that other users are facing. You’ll find it much more difficult to get a perspective on which features are most important.

Initially I designed the wallpaper to display a plain color, with no effects or styles applied. It was quite a fun exercise to figure out how to grab the CPU usage (StackOverflow helped here). But of course a plain colour isn’t all that pretty as your wallpaper. I figured out a few bitmap effects to apply, mainly a gradient, and wrote some code to handle transitions between different colours smoothly. That transition code was probably the most difficult part of the whole app, but was good experience with threads & timing.

The free version includes some basic options in the configuration dialog. But I also built a paid version (currently available for $2.99) which is more configurable, with options to change the speed of animation, as well as the update interval. I added a link in the free app to download the paid version, in the hope that this would encourage upgrades. Since my goal here was to earn revenue from selling the app, I didn’t include banner advertisements in the free or paid versions.

So how much revenue did I make from app sales? A huge total of $4.78 from 3 sales (taking into account currency conversion). I suppose it’s not that bad, seeing as my first month’s advertising revenues were only $3.88. But from the initial figures, I’m not blown away by the revenue from a paid app vs. free. I’ll take another look in a few months time and see how things compare, especially once there are a few more features to justify the upgrade.

Google+ Invites

Google+ Invites

The "Get Points" button loads a TapJoy offerwall

You might have already seen my story about the Google+ Invites app. If you haven’t, I recommend reading it. Basically I got lucky with one of my apps, and made over $250 in a single day using the Tapjoy incentive advertising platform. It started off as a weekend project, and ended up being my biggest revenue generator of all time. This was a huge encouragement for me, as it shows that you can make money with Android. Significant amounts.

This wasn’t the most popular app on the Android Market by a long shot. In fact, it wasn’t even in the top 100 for it’s category. So there are a lot of other apps out there handling many more users than I was. If I was able to make that much revenue from a few thousand users over the course of a week, there’s plenty more to be made if you can establish this kind of growth over a longer period of time. Here’s the chart showing revenues from TapJoy for this month:

Tapjoy Revenue Chart

Daily Revenue for July

It’s a little bit hard to interpret this chart because of the huge spike, but there was still revenue coming in after the 21st – a few dollars per day. But obviously the big money came over a period of 3 or 4 days there. The highest point on the chart, the 17th, is when Google suspended my app. Since it was less than half way through the day when they did so, I could have potentially got over double the revenue for that day if it had remained active.

Of course, it’s easy to guess what might have happened. The fact is, I made significant revenue from this app, and that could be repeated with other apps in the future. I’ll definitely be considering how I can use Tapjoy and incentive advertising in my apps going forward. My eCPM with Tapjoy was $21.90 this month, while AdMob was only $0.32. If you’ve got an app that could easily offer incentives (such as points, or credits) to your users, it might be worth considering this type of advertising too.

Other Apps

My other apps suffered a bit of neglect this month, as I was focused on the Live Wallpaper and Google+ Invites experiment. However, the blog client for this website got a fair few downloads (and also accounted for a large portion of my AdMob impressions). The app, titled “Making Money With Android”, received about 1,100 downloads this month – bringing the total up to 1,500 installs. Pretty good for an app that took me 10 minutes to make using feed.nu.

AdMob Earnings

Here’s the chart showing my AdMob impressions for the month of July:

AdMob Earnings Screenshot

AdMob Stats for July

The spike around the 15th is when the Google+ Invites app was getting a large number of impressions (I included AdMob as well as Tapjoy in that app). The blog client, “Making Money With Android” also helped increase the total ad impressions this month to 84,000 (up from 11,000 last month). Earnings are also up, at $27 compared with last month’s $10. So overall this was a very good month for AdMob. Even if the results were overshadowed by my success with Tapjoy :-)

Summary

Finally, the summary for this month:

App Stores

  • Total apps: 6 (+3)
  • Android Market installs (cumulative): 14,100 (+10,781)
  • Android Market installs (active): 4,675 (+3,354)
  • Android Market Sales: $4.78
  • SlideME installs (cumulative): 869 (+261)

Total installs (all app stores): 14,969 (+11,073)

AdMob

  • AdMob Impressions: 84,254 (+72,915)
  • AdMob Earnings: $27.26 (+16.88)
  • AdMob eCPM: $0.32

Tapjoy

  • Tapjoy Offerwall Views: 25,782
  • Tapjoy Earnings: $564.57
  • TapJoy eCPM: $21.90

Other Income

  • AdSense Earnings: $93.91 (+46.13)
  • Website advertising: $0 (-$15)

Total Income: $690.52 (+617.36)

Conclusion

Overall this was a fantastic month, with over 800% increase in revenue and many learning opportunities. It’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to repeat this month’s figures in the coming months, especially since the Google+ Invites app is now rendered defunct. But I’m hopeful that I can learn from the new experiences gained, and apply the skills & motivation gained to my future activities with Android.

If nothing else, this was a bit of a boost to say “come on, you can do it!”. It’s definitely possible to make money with Android. It’s just a matter of time, perseverance, and a fair bit of luck (or fate, or divine providence if you are so inclined 😉 ) Thank you all for your support and continued comments – I’ve probably learned as much from reading other peoples’ experience as I have from my own development. Keep it coming! In my experience the Android development community is one of the most vibrant, helpful and positive communities out there. It’s a pleasure to be working with you.

  • Steve Jarvis

    You’re info is always helpful. I’ve had a big dip in my downloads this month. I’m blaming it at least partly on the new Market App; I think it’s much tougher to get found if an app isn’t in the top one or two for a category. Also, my console stats haven’t updated in 2 weeks. Frustrating, but I’m hangin’ in there. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences!

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      Same here with the Developer Console stats. Like, Google’s released this awesome OS but they seem to have had a lot of trouble handling developers lately. I’ve heard of a few people banned for no reason (not to mention my own experience!), and the developer console seems even more inconsistent than normal.

      Hopefully they can get these issues sorted out pretty quickly. I haven’t been able to properly asses the impact of the new Market App, because of the stats not updating.

    • Johannes Borchardt

      Both my private and my company’s developer console haven’t updated for two weeks too. Only the active installs did update daily as they are supposed to.

  • http://twitter.com/RevolzTech Revolz Technology

    Thanks for sharing, you’re one step closer to your $1000 goal !

    One suggestion, could you also provide a break down in the form of 2D table so we are able to learn which apps have how many install and ads impression? Currently all the numbers are accumulated into the grand total, we could hardly know which apps is more popular and sticky.

    Keep it up! You’re always my role model.

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      Thanks for the feedback – I’ll look at doing a comparison chart in my future reports. At the moment I’m actually having trouble keeping track of all the stats. With 6 different apps across a couple of different app stores, several ad networks and two analytics products, it’s not easy to collate all that data into something meaningful! I’m trying out Distimo at the moment for monitoring all my apps, we’ll see how that goes.

  • Anton

    Just as a question- are you going to do your blog even after you reach your $1000 goal? This is really interesting to read and I don’t want to see this go away.

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      I definitely plan to keep blogging after reaching the $1000 mark. That’s just a marker to give me something to aim for. If I can get there within a year I’d be really happy. But regardless, I think there’s great benefit to sharing the development experience with others on the internet, and plan to keep blogging for the foreseeable future :)

      • http://twitter.com/RevolzTech Revolz Technology

        I guess it can then turn into $10,000 goal, pushing the limit of new benchmark.

  • Guest

    Which of the alternitive markets has been the most successful/promising for you?

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      At the moment, SlideME is the only market really performing well. On SlideME, Tap That Number has about 1,300 installs. But I haven’t been able to get this app submitted to Amazon yet, as it’s failed their approval process multiple times (most recently because of a bug in the Facebook app, see http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/2011/09/intent-action_send-crashes-facebook-app/ )

      Amazon certainly looks like a promising market though, with the release of the Kindle Fire.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503303835 Bryan Stinchfield

        Amazon market is a joke compared to android market. I have one app that regularly makes $650 – $1000/mo but only get around $100/mo from Amazon, less lately. Maybe the kindle fire will help sales but it isn’t promising. It also takes about a week to get an app updated, so if you release with a bug and have to resubmit it tends to take 1.5 – 2 weeks to get the fixes updated. 

  • Gaddo

    I’ve followed your blog with great interest as while I have an app on the market, I’ve not as yet made any attempt to monetize it. Quickly analysing your reports, I would have a few observations to make:

    Firstly, while your windfall from Tapjoy was a big boost, you’ll admit yourself that it was a fluke and thus cannot really be relied upon when forecasting ‘sustainable’ revenue. The same goes for your $15 extra Web advertising, which appears to have been a once off.

    Take these away and you’re seeing steady growth, however three quarters of this is still ad revenue from your blog, rather than the apps themselves. Take that stream away and between AdMob and sales, you’re clawing back very little – about 0.7 cent per active install.

    As an percentage of total installs, your active ones are decreasing as your overall numbers rise (almost 50% at the beginning and now at a 33%). If this trend were to continue (and I think it naturally will), I could certainly see your active installs falling to about 20 – 25%, in the long run.

    On that basis, and ignoring ad revenue from your blog, you’d probably want to get about 700,000 total, or 143,000 active installs, presuming revenue per active install remains consistent (which to date it has), to hit your $1,000 p.m.

    All of which causes one to conclude that it’s a volume game; maximize total installs and maximize retention of active installs. However, the revenue from your blog should not be ignored – non-standard revenue streams are increasingly becoming essential in today’s App market – and so if you take that into account you’ll only need about 150,000 total installs to hit your target.

    Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences, not to mention the labour of love which are your apps.

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      Thanks for your in-depth analysis there! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. An active install ratio of 20-25% sounds reasonable for the long term, as I’ve seen similar stats from other developers. Going on past experience then, the “volume game” is definitely the sure-fire way to grow revenue incrementally.
      In the back of my mind though, I’m really hoping to release at least one app that becomes really popular. To date my apps have had pretty mediocre install rates. Not quite sure of the reason, but if I can get an app with over 100K total installs, it would give a lot more flexibility to play around and find the optimal monetization strategy. With a critical mass of traffic, I think the eCPM and CTR could vary significantly, compared with the volume I’m receiving today.

  • CarpSlayer

    wow I must have been pretty damn lucky with my first app. its making about $400/m from AdMob, roughly 800K impressions, has 89K installs, 59K active. see attached image, this is just one app.
    The paid version (ad free and some extra features) is making about $50/m.

    I totally agree with your comments on knowing your target audience, you need to know what they want and how they want to get it. My app was born of frustration, so I essentially made the app for myself then tweaked it knowing how others would want to use it.

    I’ve read countless blogs on making money with android, yours was probably one of them that inspired me to just jump in and do it, and I’m glad I did. So I’d advise anyone thinking about writing android apps, just do it! its what, $25 for a dev account, then your time, and bob’s your uncle.

    I’ll be seriously considering how I can integrate Tapjoy into my apps now, but without pissing off my users too much. cheers! :)

    • http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/ David Webb

      Those are some pretty impressive figures! I think there’s a lot of the “luck” element in which app gets popular – my weekend project “Google+ Invites” is an example of that. But congratulations on your success so far. Sounds like you’ve got a good app with a great target audience. Would you mind sharing the name of your app? :)

  • sundown support

    wait a minute… you’re making that much money from admob?!
    i have over 1,000,000 impressions with mobfox and guess how much i’ve made.. $15!!! how the heck is that possible i need to switch over to admob right away…

  • Edac Leinad

    Great read! Your story, I think, has motivated me to consider developing for a mass audience.

    Keep writing Java and English!

    -Edac

  • Nathan Rose

    As a potential android developer I’ve really been enjoying following your progress here, and congrats on the success of your latest fake iPhone app!  I’m really interested to see how that worked for you on the next income report.  Also, I’d be interested to know what resources you found particularly helpful to learn android programming.  Best of luck on your future projects!

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  • praveen yadav

    how much can i earn from 50000 daily active users. if i upload a free live wallpaper in android play store. can anyone tell me estimate income from this figure