Could an Android app make you rich?

Developers have long been frustrated with the Android Marketplace. But there are signs that there's money to be made designing Android apps for mobile phones running the Google operating system.

The Motorola Devour, shown here, runs Android software. For a long time, developers were hesitant to throw their lot in with Android apps. That may be changing.

Conventional wisdom dictates that if you want to get rich designing applications for mobile phones, you should definitely be designing applications for Apple iTunes – not the rival Android apps marketplace. After all, more than a billion iPhone and iPod Touch apps have been downloaded in recent years, and the market shows no sign of slowing anytime soon, especially as the launch of the Apple iPad draws near.

But there's some new evidence that there's money to be made on other platforms, too. Consider the story of Edward Kim, the creator of an Android app called Car Locator. (The app works exactly as you'd imagine.) Kim says that he's logged 70,000 downloads of the free version of Car Locator, as well as 6,590 downloads of the paid version. That comes out to about $13,000 a month, plus some prize money Kim picked up at a sponsored contest for Android developers.

"Clearly, I'm on cloud 9 with these numbers, but where does it go from here?" Kim wrote on his blog. "Sales of about $13k/month is awesome income for any one person, so it may sound ridiculous for me to think it can go even higher. However, I still think that Android is only a fraction of what it will eventually become. Each release of a new Android handset gets me excited, as it means a wider reach for the Marketplace."

As Kim hints, there are bigger issues at play here. The health of a platform, be it Android Marketplace or Apple iTunes, is measured in part by the number of interested developers. And profitability is a major lure. If folks such as Kim can show there's money to be made on Android Marketplace, that will only draw more developers, which might boost sales of phones running Android. And if Android sales soar, so do sales of applications. It's a happy little circle.

Late last year, we reported that a majority of developers were frustrated with Android Marketplace. Is that changing?


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