Why Google Play’s Upcoming Gift Card Feature is Important

Why Google Play’s Upcoming Gift Card Feature is Important

Aug 17, 2012

Reports are starting to surface that Google is looking to add two key features to Google Play: wish lists and gift card redemption. The former is a nifty feature, one that will help users keep track of the apps they want. The latter is something that could have a big impact on Android going forward for two key reasons:

1. Access to apps and other Google Play content became a whole lot wider.

Go to a store sometime. Doesn’t matter if it’s Best Buy, a grocery store, or a convenience store. There’s usually iTunes gift cards for sale. Now, these aren’t always given away as gifts, but can be used by kids (or anyone else without access to a credit card) who just have cash on them to buy what they want off of iTunes, including apps. Google Play may be missing out on a lot of sales due to this. Anything that makes it easier to purchase content is a win for those selling content. The starving indie developer won’t immediately go away, but it could help those trying ot make money off of Android.

Image Credit: Android Police

2. It’s the harbinger of a promo code system, which Android desperately needs.

Android should make it easy to distribute apps. After all, with easy sideloading, a developer that wants to send an app to the press should just be able to send an APK. However, due to piracy concerns and the hurdles caused by the Google Play DRM licensing that some developers use, distribution is not always that easy. Promo codes would be a secure way to get apps to people who want to cover them. Over time, it could help shape the Android press from being so hardware-focused, and to allow app-focused sites like those that exist on iOS (such as the mothership 148Apps and a site like Touch Arcade) to take root on Android, because trying out apps to cover them will be so much easier.

Of course, this is all still somewhat unknown as to just when it will happen, as it is somethign uncovered by enterprising hackers. But the hints given by the Google Play balance given to Nexus 7 owners were smoke that appear to be fire.

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.