Apps  Music
Instagram comes to Google Play as big developer leaves
arstechnica.com  2012-03-12 10:34:00

The Android app market is going through more than just a name change. The man responsible for overseeing the Market, recently renamed Google Play, has stepped down. Meanwhile, a hugely popular iPhone app will arrive in the store as another big developer pulls out because its Android app was a money-losing enterprise.

On Sunday, The Verge reported that Instagram, a free photography-oriented iPhone app with 27 million registered users, would be coming to Android shortly. Kevin Systrom, an Instagram co-founder, showed off a prototype of the app running on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and noted that "in some ways, it's better than out iPhone app."

This report followed Battleheart creator Mika Mobile's announcement Saturday that the company would drop support for its Android app. The company, which sells Battleheart for $2.99 in both the App Store and Google Play, wrote in a blog post that it spends 20 percent of its worker-hours supporting the various hardware profiles of Android handsets, but the app generated only five percent of its revenue, what he called an "unsustainable" ratio.

The fact that one big app developer finds the Android app environment less profitable jibes with a recent study in February from the firm Canalys, stating that the Android app makers can't make money off of volume sales, as Android users tend to use free apps rather than buying. Because paid apps don't sell as well on Android as on iOS, they tend to be more expensive: the average top 100 app on Android was $3.74, compared to $1.47 on iOS.

That free apps succeed is good news for Instagram, though its founders have yet to establish a way to make money from the app. While Google started processing in-app payments for its Android market last year, free apps like Instagram may be more likely to go the in-app advertising route, especially with the brand relationships Instagram has build up.

These movements come as Eric Chu, group manager of Android and Android Market leader, stepped down, as TechCrunch reported Saturday. Jamie Rosenberg, the director of digital content on Android responsible for the Google Music launch, will move into Chu's former role. Perhaps the change of management, along with the rebranding of the store, will help bring paid apps to the forefront and prevent more developers from migrating away due to lack of profitability.

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