It's been a week since I launched my Android app and I now have over 9000 downloads. The things I'm taking from this so far are:
*It is possible to make money as an Android apps developer.* You just need to find the right niche, or ideally a number of niches.
*App store optimization is important.* Having the right keywords in your description is obvious. Also think about other search terms used in different countries, for Cherry Chaser I added "one armed bandit" for the UK market and "pokie" for the Australian market. Adding keywords out of context to your description is somewhat crass but you can be clever and lever the desired search terms in there without being too obvious: "If you like one armed bandits or pokies, you'll love this game."
*Consider your app store icon.* You can give more information about your product with your icon. My original icon was the same as my app icon, a couple of cherries, it looked okay but didn't say anything about the app to a casual browser. My new icon looks like the type of slot machine that my app emulates. It gives the user a good idea of what to expect from the game. After changing to this image my app store downloads more than doubled.
*Android fragmentation is a myth.* At least the idea that it is problematic to developers is a myth. My app is running on every version of Android from 1.5 to 4.03 without any problems. I've even been told that it works well on a tablet, despite being targeted at lower resolution displays.
I've decided to launch Cherry Chaser slot machine on to the Android market in its current state. I had plans to add some features such as multi-currency support and the ability to save the game state over multiple sessions before releasing it. I've changed my mind based upon the philosophy of releasing early and iterating quickly. These added features can easily be added in future updates to the app. I think it is much better to get the app out there where people can use it and start getting feedback.
I added a feature yesterday to make particles pop out of the buttons as the player presses them. I showed it to Jen this morning and her advice was that it didn't look very good and it was unnecessary. Looking again with objective eyes I agree with her. This means that some of the work I did yesterday to add the feature is wasted but sometimes you have to try things just to find out that they do not work. Anyway the hardest bits of code I wrote can almost certainly be used later so all is not lost.
I'm now adding adverts to the game using the Admob advert service from Google. This will be a little experiment as my first game with adverts to see if it generates any revenue. The original Cherry Chaser game I wrote for Windows Mobile had 60,000+ downloads as a freeware app, that was back in the days when the mobile market was much smaller. Against that, the number of apps relative to the size of the market these days is probably even higher than then, so hopefully my app won't get lost in the masses.