The Hills Are Greener: No Freedom

The Hills Are Greener: No Freedom

Feb 6, 2012

About every week or so, it seems as if GetJar announces that they have a new free app or game available, often from some big-name publisher: Sega and Gameloft in particular have taken part in the program recently. I ask myself why they would do this, what’s the potential benefit? The thing is, these developers can’t actually give their paid apps away for free on the Android Market because of store policy. Let’s not even mention the lack of promo codes on the Android Market. It makes promotion of apps by giving them away for free impossible…on the Android Market.

So, basically GetJar can function as Android’s FreeAppADay, or one of the other many similar services on iOS – they can help push paid apps by promoting the free downloads of them on their service. Hypothetically, developers would pay for this service as they do on FAAD, and thus would hopefully make money by driving additional sales to the paid app through word of mouth and by driving visibility of the app on the free charts.

Of course, the issue is that by not being on the same app store as where the paid apps they’re trying to eventually push. Apps that involve freemium elements might get a push regardless, because of increased users buying in-app purchases. However, this disconnect between where apps are being sold and where they’re being given away for free makes it more difficult for this to work effectively. Perhaps GetJar is financially compensating for this. (Editor’s Note: A developer has confirmed to us that larger free apps do receive compensation from GetJar)

While FAAD is a mixed bag on iOS, it is sometthing that the developers of Temple Run have sworn by as the spearhead for the game’s massive success, by transitioning from paid to free using their promotions.

This policy on Android of no free to paid transitions is one that Google needs to re-evaluate. Dropping to free is a valuable promotional tool, and it’s something that is clearly driving developers to a service like GetJar, if it’s the best option for doing so right now. But if developers are going to use Android as a platform to sell their apps, they need to have the same flexibility and tools that they have on the iOS App Store. To not do so is to put them at a disadvantage.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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