Android Income Report #7 (October)

Statistics bar graphWhen I started this blog, I set myself a goal: to make $1000 from Android development in a single month. This seemed a lofty goal – especially starting from scratch – but I thought it would be achievable within a couple of years. Thus it was quite a surprise in July when I got nearly halfway there – $690 in a single month. This was just 4 months after my first income report of less than $4!

Even more surprising – and exciting – is the news that this month, I passed the $1000 mark. Yes, after 7 months of Android development I’ve actually reached the goal set back in March. This was mainly due to the phenomenal success of my latest app – “Fake iPhone 4S“.

Read on for more details, including the full story of how one weekend’s work turned into my most successful app yet.

Stirrings In The Apple Camp…

Apple fans & aficionados across the world will remember October very well. Early in the month, Apple announced the new iPhone 4S with iOS 5 (I wrote my thoughts about the announcement here). But sadly, this wasn’t the only news from the computer company. Less than 24 hours after the iPhone 4S announcement, Apple informed the world that its founder Steve Jobs had passed away.

Steve has impacted so many people across the world with his products, and the company he built. He will always be remembered as a great visionary in the technology arena. You don’t need to be an Apple fan to appreciate what he’s contributed to modern computing, especially in the mobile world.

I mention these two events because they are both relevant in many ways to Android developers, and especially my activities during the month of October.

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

When I first saw the details of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S, I was struck by an idea. Since these phones weren’t actually available in Australia yet, what if I could make my Android phone look like an iPhone, and trick people into thinking I had the new 4S? It was an intriguing thought, so of course I went to the Market and had a look – simply searching for “iPhone”.

There were a couple of existing apps that claimed to imitate the iOS home screen (Springboard). They did the job adequately, but I wasn’t really satisfied. All the apps I tried had pretty glaring flaws, and wouldn’t convince anyone for very long. Besides, I wanted an iPhone launcher that actually worked – where you could click the buttons, and flip between screens realistically. Surely that wouldn’t be too hard to make?

Testing The Market

Fake iPhone 4S ScreenshotBefore investing a lot of time in this idea, I decided to “test the waters”, by releasing a very basic version. This way I could see if there was actually demand for the app – how many people would download a free imitation iPhone app?

I threw together a quick app in Eclipse – basically just a single ImageView with a screenshot of the iPhone 4 home screen. Nothing fancy, just a quick demo I could use to gauge demand for this kind of app.

It turns out the demand was more than I expected. In just two days – with no marketing – I got over 2,000 downloads on the Android Market. And amazingly, nearly all of those were active installs. Less than 200 people uninstalled the app in those first two days. That’s an amazing response, far better than I had ever received for my previous apps.

Ramping Things Up A Bit

It looked like I might have a winner on my hands. My proof of concept got a great response. Could I extend that success further by adding more functionality?

During the next couple of weeks I ended up rewriting the app from scratch, with a bunch of new features. Instead of just showing a static image on the screen, I used the wallpaper as a background for the activity. The icons were now rendered as separate Views in a ViewGroup. I used a ViewPager to accomplish iOS-like flipping between screens.

I really enjoyed the exercise of taking an existing design (in this case, the most popular phone on the planet), and basically porting it to a new platform. Of course, my app isn’t anywhere near serious enough to be considered a “port” in the proper sense of that word. It’s more like a parody app – designed to fool your friends for a short time, but not completely replace all the functions of an iPhone. Nonetheless, it was an interesting experience to build an app conforming to someone else’s design, and not my own.

Adding Ads

Android Interstitial Ad
An example of a LeadBolt interstitial

My first release – the proof of concept – was given away for free, with no advertising. This isn’t a very sustainable business model, so I had to figure out a way to get some return on investment once the app started taking more of my time. I didn’t want to clutter the home screen appearance by flashy banners or promotional text. And I definitely didn’t want to use Airpush or other “push notification” ad networks. Interstitials were the only way to go.

Since not all the apps on the iOS home screen have an exact equivalent on every Android phone, I chose a simple advertising method. When the user clicked an icon that couldn’t launch a relevant Android app, it would display an ad instead.

About half of the icons worked in the first iteration. So clicking the Camera icon would launch the Android camera. Clicking Photos would display the Android photo gallery (built-in). But since “Notes” doesn’t come pre-installed on many Android phones, I set up that icon to launch an interstitial ad.

The Explosion

As a result of these upgrades, my app continued to grow in popularity. By mid October, I had nearly 30,000 total downloads – far more than all of my other apps combined. And it just kept going up.

Android Market Install Chart
Fake iPhone - Total & Active Installs for October

The chart above shows total and active installs for the month of October. As you can see, there was a sharp increase in popularity during the later half of the month. In total, during October this app was downloaded nearly 300,000 times. But even more amazing: 225,000 of those downloads occurred in the last 7 days of the month.

That’s a quarter of a million downloads in just one week.

So what made this app so popular? Well firstly, it was created at a very opportune time. Every man and his dog were talking about the iPhone 4S in October, and no doubt this contributed greatly to the popularity of this app.

Secondly, the initial boost of downloads was enough to propel this app into AppBrain’s “Top 10 Hottest Apps” list. While AppBrain doesn’t have as wide a user base as the official Android Market, it’s still a valuable place to be featured.

Thirdly, with the combined effects of organic downloads & the AppBrain exposure, this app made it into the Android Market’s “Top New Free” category. This brought in heaps of increased exposure, and this exposure in turn kept the app popular enough to continue to rise through the rankings. At one stage Fake iPhone 4S was #3 in the “Top Free Entertainment” apps list for many places in the world. Near the end of October it also appeared in the “Trending” list.

Show Me The Money

With all those downloads, how much money was I making?

For Fake iPhone 4S, I wrote my own custom code to switch between ad networks dynamically. So every time a full-screen interstitial ad was requested, my code would randomly choose which ad to display. I started off using 3 networks – Inner-Active, LeadBolt and Madvertise.

Here’s a chart showing how the income was distributed between ad networks over the course of the month. (Note: This chart includes revenue from all of my apps & the website.)

Android Income Chart

Looking at this chart, it’s clear that Madvertise and Inner-Active were my most productive networks, followed by LeadBolt. These are the three networks that I integrated into Fake iPhone 4S. They all performed very well, and made up about 88% of my revenue for the month.

During October, Fake iPhone 4S generated a total of $1,307.40.

The income from all my other Android apps (using AdMob and Tapjoy) was pretty insignificant by comparison. I didn’t release any major changes this month, so this is entirely passive income.

During October, all my other Android apps combined generated a total of $22.01.

My website earnings (including AdSense) were still strong, but made up less than 10% of the total for this month.

During October, my website brought in $151.51.

So in total, that’s $1,480.92 for the month. Well over my target of $1,000 – and more than I’d earned in the previous 6 months combined!

All The Juicy Details

Here are the full details from all of my advertising networks, including the bits developers really want to hear – eCPM, Fill Rate and CTR.

AdMob

AdMob Impressions 52,226
AdMob Earnings $13.80
AdMob eCPM $0.26
AdMob Fill Rate 56.15%
AdMob CTR 0.62%

Tapjoy

Tapjoy Offerwall Views 1,425
Tapjoy Clicks 435
Tapjoy Conversions 43
Tapjoy CTR 30.5%
Tapjoy eCPM $4.35
Tapjoy Revenue $6.20

AdSense

AdSense Earnings $73.51

LeadBolt

LeadBolt Impressions 2,152,211
LeadBolt Clicks 57,954
LeadBolt CTR 2.69%
LeadBolt eCPM $0.14
LeadBolt Revenue $296.46

Madvertise

Madvertise Requests 79,527
Madvertise Impressions 17,728
Madvertise Fill Rate 22%
Madvertise Clicks 948
Madvertise CTR 5.35%
Madvertise eCPM 22.71€ (approx. $28 USD)
Madvertise Revenue 402,73€ (approx. $500 USD)

Inneractive

Inneractive Requests 379,027
Inneractive Impressions 284,932
Inneractive Fill Rate 75.175%
Inneractive Clicks 32,059
Inneractive CTR 11.251%
Inneractive eCPM $1.78
Inneractive Revenue $506.57

Summary

Without further ado, here is my traditional monthly summary for October:

Total App Downloads: 319,204 (+312,846)

Total Ad Impressions: 2,664,416 (+2,631,933)
Total Ad Revenue: $1,329.41 (+1,264.90)
Revenue Per 1,000 Impressions:  $0.4989 (~$0.50)

Android Market Sales: $2.01 (1 sale) (+0.59)

Total AdSense Revenue: $73.51 (-0.31)
Other Website Advertising: $78.00 (+60.5)
Total Website Revenue
: $151.51 (+60.19)

Total Income for October: $1,480.92 (+1,323.17)

Wow – what a month! I was featured in the top trending charts on AppBrain and the Android Market. I passed my income goal less than a year after I first downloaded the Android SDK. And in the process, I discovered two new advertising networks (Inner-Active and Madvertise) which returned a significantly higher eCPM than anything else I’ve used.

My success this month can be entirely attributed to one app. But I’m beginning to think this “hit” based business model is quite common amongst Android developers. That is – most apps won’t be successful. But once you create enough apps, one of them will take off in a way you never expected, and that can fund your development for years to come.

Of course, if you’re a development studio with plenty of money to spend on advertising, it would be possible to produce an app and market it to create a guaranteed success. But for an independent developer, the best strategy seems to be “test the waters, and pursue any app that seems popular”. Especially now that the “Just In” section is gone from the Android Market, it’s much harder to get your app noticed if you don’t pick a well-searched title right from the beginning.

It’s interesting to note that since the success of Fake iPhone 4S, all of my other apps have seen an uptick in both new downloads and active installs. By placing a simple link to my Android Market developer page, I was able to cross-promote my other apps to interested users. This seems a very effective way to leverage a single successful app to drive traffic to your other releases.

Where To From Here?

Several people have asked me what my long-term goals are, now that I’ve passed the initial milestone of $1000/month. Here’s what I’ll be aiming for:

  • Sustain the $1000/month target for several consecutive months
    In the past, I haven’t been able to maintain a prolonged boost in revenues. During the next few months I’ll try to improve on my October earnings, but primarily focus on stabilising revenue, so that this isn’t a one-off event :)
  • Test several new advertising networks
    Now that I’m handling several million ad requests in a single month, I can start looking at other ad networks. Hopefully by comparing several different networks in the same app, I’ll be able to determine which services offer the best RPM globally.
  • Focus on feedback
    I’ve placed a prominent request for feedback – along with an email address – on several of my Android app listings. In the coming few months I’ll try to actively respond to users’ emails, and follow up by adding features that have been requested.

So, that’s all folks! Apologies for the very delayed report, but there was a lot of data to sift through & write up. The coming few months also promise to be a very exciting time, so stay tuned for the follow-up blog posts.

  • http://thrasheridevelopment.blogspot.com/ Thrasheri

    Thank you for very informative post :) I specially liked how you put different advertising networks to detail. I think i will have to give inneractive a try. Do you have something new on the work or are you just updating your old apps ?

  • Gaddo

    Congratulations. I’ve been monitoring your progress since you began out of great interest and have come to the conclusion that ‘making money from Android’ is essentially a numbers game (hardly a revelation). Without the numbers, ad revenue will never amount to much in total – and the less said about paid downloads, the better.

    But to get those numbers, it appears that it ultimately comes down to being the right app at the right time, with initial organic growth triggering the attention of the app review sites, which in turn escalates further growth, until it snowballs. As an addendum, which I’ve seen discussed elsewhere, advertising an app does not work very well – you’ll increase your downloads through it, but anywhere I’ve seen where people have posted figures on their own experience have consistently shown that they end up spending more than they earn.

    What I found very interesting was your approach of ‘testing the market’ with a simple version before investing time in it. A successful strategy could well be to produce lots of such ‘prototype’ apps and see what takes off and what doesn’t, rather than build a good app from the start and hope that quality alone will promote it, as you did with some of your earlier ones – it doesn’t.

    I think your aim now is to maintain your market dominance for the ‘fake iPhone’ app. All it takes is for someone to produce a ‘fresher’, slicker version to reverse your fortunes almost as quickly as you made them, so you’re probably going to have to devote a fair bit of time to keep ahead of, or at least in, the game.

    Anyhow contatz again and thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of us. I look forward to seeing how things develop for you moving forward.

  • Abdnamri

    great work and ideas 

    your blog is very good to inspire Independence developer to go there own app, i have 5 app in android market i got ~ $150 every month from this apps by use admob and airpush.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome, congratulations!

    I’m also an Android developer and I’ve set a similar goal. You can read about my efforts and hopefully send some feedback/suggestions here at my blog: http://www.SoftwareAsALiving.com

  • Angelos

    Congratulations!!
    i wait you to see which network service is the most profitable

  • Roby0b

    I’m curious, did anyone ever purchase Most Expensive App?

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

      About 5 people have clicked purchase, but the payment never came through for any of them. So I haven’t received any income from that app. Which is entirely to be expected, I might add :)

      • http://martin.cubeactive.com/ Martin

        Maybe you can alter the app a bit. Put a graphic image of a pile of cash :)

  • Orly

    Hey David,
    I am really happy to see that you have reached your goal – this is AMAZING!!!
    I am happy to see your growth with inneractive and it defiantly was a great journey with you. 

    Looking forward to see your next application and monitor it as well :)

    Orly Tsesis
    inneractive

  • ca

    Can you share your results for november and december ?

  • http://www.ape-apps.com/ Bastecklein

    Awesome news on the hit app.  I had similar success releasing an app called ‘Mirror’ that offered nothing beyond basic functionality that is already built into the phone.  It’s crazy to see which apps take off and which don’t.  Anyway, hoping your success continues!

  • tajzulu

    New original App called Cherry Chaser Slot Machine on the Android Market! There has been 12000 downloads in 10 days bit.ly/y7newH.  Making money seems to be possible if you have the right app.

  • Anonymous

    Congrats on reaching your goal. I am a bit shocked though that you didn’t make a lot more money with such a popular App and this even after using interstitial Ads, its a testament to how difficult it actually is to make money with Ads.

  • http://twitter.com/PonyLAB PonyLAB

    Thanks for sharing your reports in such a good quality and professional manner.
    It is pleasure to read them!
    Keep doing the good job and you will succeed your next goals! :)

    You still inspiring me.

    P.S. Hope to launch my first game next week. Currently it will be only for iOS, but as I know you  have an iPad 😀

  • Reneovervoorde92

    How much did you earn in the last week of October? Curious for that because that’s where the downloads. Boost starts.

  • Superjos

    I really like your blog, my compliments for it and whoa, congratulations for your latest market results! Keep going! I’ll keep reading you! :)

  • Yyyt

    a guest for you (which is bugging me A LOT recently) – isn’t the iPhone graphics property of Apple Inc? Meaning that….you use others copyrighted material to earn money? The reason why I am asking this is beacause I have similar idea (not iphone) and im interested if its worth to start developing it or i will get banned too fast to cover the expenses. thanks a lot for the answer.

  • http://martin.cubeactive.com/ Martin

    I’m still very surprised that your Iphone app is not banned yet.
    It’s very risky and your income can decrease dramatically if it does.
    Aside of the moral dilemma of using copyrighted material in your app and a trademark in the  title.

  • Vex

    Glad to hear! Yo, David, do you have an email I could contact you on?

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

      Yep. http://www.makingmoneywithandroid.com/contact/ 😉

  • http://www.howdoiuseandroid.com/ How Do i Use Android?

    Very impressive.  Do you mind me asking how many pagehits and visits a day you receive on average at makeingmoneywithandroid.com?   Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/iloveelisia Jorge Espinoza

    Wow that is really cool! :) Only took you 7 months to reach your goal wow. When you first downloaded the Android SDK did you already have prior experience with JAVA or where you a complete novice?

  • Spjohn

    Congrats man, your income statistics are pretty impressive, and inspirational too..
    I’m constantly monitoring your site for knowing about different techniques for making money by android development. Great work. Keep it up.
    Android-App-Market.com

  • http://www.reiti.net/ reiti.net

    being inspired by your post I’ve just put up a small app “Laser Blaster Simulator” and tried the App Wall.

    The app gots unexpectedly high downloads (1000 first day) and yesterday (the first day) the app wall had a revenue of 1$ .. not so bad – just see how that goes :-)

  • Pingback: Can I Really Make Money with an AppsGeyser App? AppsGeyser Blog()

  • Waltxp

    Interesting article but it’s so few money for so many work, so many time spent to code ! It’s maybe better to sell less but not free : you’ll get the same amount but faster.

  • Davlung

    Hi, since we are all trying to make money with
    apps, one of the ways to stand out amongst the crowd is to have a standout
    icon.  Your icon is the first thing users
    see when browsing the app store so it has to make a good first impression or
    else you lose a sale! Having a great app is not longer enough because you have
    to get users to download your app and the first step through the door is your
    icon!

    To enhance your icons, check out:
    http://www.iconenhancers.com/

  • http://software-workshop.eu/ Mariusz Płaskowicki

    Any chance of new reports?

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

      I’m working on it. Life just isn’t slowing down, so everything’s taking time at the moment! :) I definitely want to get the next one or two reports published before the end of this month though, to avoid getting even further behind.

  • nr7

    good keap it up

  • M Shoaib

    hello just one questions i downloaded your apps and check for ad lovation i dont seem to find any ad network except tapjoy and ineractive?

  • Safwan

    Hi

  • paupP

    Which is the link to the app ?