Guest Blogger Jason Allen Tells His Android Story

Posted on December 8th, 2011 by

In this week’s post, we ask one our developers, Jason Allen, to tell us his Android story.

Well, it started as an experiment.

I’ve always liked writing games and I figured Google’s new Android platform would be a good test. For some reason, I wrote a Sudoku game. I don’t even particularly like Sudoku, but I thought I could give the best Sudoku game on Android a run for its money at the time.

Over a long weekend I was able to complete my Sudoku game and gleefully release it to the masses. It didn’t completely flop, but I learned a few hard lessons the following weeks –

One: Few people purchase things on Android.

Two: There was no way I could make a living selling Sudoku.

Three: Ad revenue was pathetic.

Secret Fourth Lesson: None of that is true today.

Fast forward a year of bitter disappointment. After some contract work for mobiles, I decided to give it another crack on Android.

Now, I’m someone who thinks the internet is a great way to bring people together. I would often reach out artists and offer to collaborate. I didn’t think it was such a bad idea – you know, just an experiment. That strategy never worked for me. I couldn’t see what the big deal was. Who knows how it would turn out? Why not just give it a go?

No one ever thought it was worthwhile, that is, until I met Anne Pätzke. I loved her artwork and she suggested we try out some concepts.

Our first collaboration was art for another Sudoku game on Windows Phone 7 (Yes, even I have no idea why I tried that again.) After that bombed, I converted the artwork to a live wallpaper called Starlight instead.

I released it and it sold about 15 copies on the first day. Undeterred, I went ahead and released a free version. This one shot to the top of the free list in about a week. Thousands and thousands of people were downloading it.

I watched in earnest for those users to upgrade to the full version. After all, it was only a dollar!

Almost no one did. However, there was enough volume to keep trying. After a few months, Anne and I had struck the top 10 a couple of times and our revenue had increased.

By this time we had millions of downloads but only a tiny fraction of sales. I was hoping of one day having my own office where I could set up a table tennis table (No one to play it with, but worry about that later.) At this rate, we would have needed several more top 10 hits to get anywhere near that. We were doing well, but getting top 10 hit after top 10 hit was unrealistic.

I daydreamed about the table tennis equipped office for a few more months.

In the interim, Anne and I tried our hand at games (Galaxy Bowling 3D) which is doing fine. I speculated the only way to earn money from ad revenue was through games or apps and not live wallpapers – however, I was getting a lot of requests from advertisers to try them out. It occurred to me one day that I was the one who wasn’t trying a new frontier, an experiment. Just like all the artists I had tried to work with before Anne.

I sat there at my desk at work contemplating this sudden epiphany.

I decided that my new strategy was going to be, “Yes.”

“Jason, could you add your app to our new Android store?”

“Yes.”

“Jason, could you translate your app and send them to me so I can advertise them on my network?”

“Yes.”

“Jason, do you want to try advertising for your live wallpapers?”

“Yes.” Although I didn’t know it yet, that’s when this transitioned from hobby to something entirely new.

I went with StartApp because their solution seemed less likely to annoy my user base. The user can easily opt-out and there are no banners or advertisements showing anywhere. The StartApp guys were very personable and fun to work with. I don’t think either of us could predict how well StartApp was going to fit for my apps.

In a single month, revenue had increased by a factor of five. As the following months wore on, the trend stabilized and I’ve slowly come to realize that this is a thing. It’s real, and it was a great idea.

A table tennis equipped office isn’t anything I need to daydream about anymore. My new daydream is me and my family doing a road trip around Australia. They’re in a nice campervan.

I’m in a Lamborghini.

(Yeah, okay, that’s pretty far-fetched… right now.)


Jason Allen is an Australia based developer that currently develops apps in his spare time (soon to be changed to full time!). He is responsible to some of the Markets’ most popular and unique live wallpaper apps, which you can find in his Market developers page here – https://market.android.com/developer?pub=Jason+Allen

Jason is also a game developer and has developed a very unique game, aimed for blind gamers, you can check it out here – http://www.blind-games.com/entombed.aspx

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