The Linux market has a very strong bias toward capital-F Free Software—and also toward little-f free software. If there’s an open source equivalent to what you’re selling on Linux, you can pretty much forget selling a commercial product—even if your application is demonstrably better in important areas, you’re going to lose.
Application markets on iOS and Android behave differently because the platforms themselves attract people with different values. The Henry Blodgets of the world don’t get this. Android users are more likely to be free/open software buffs or people who went for the cheapest smartphone they could get that didn’t have the timeless stylings of a Nickelback CD (cough, BlackBerry, cough). These are perfectly valid choices, they just happen to be different choices than the Macalope and most iPhone users make.
This culture isn’t going to change a lot just because the market gets bigger. Android is attracting a certain kind of user: the kind that happens to be more averse to buying apps.
But while Android developers aren’t making much money off the platform, guess who is?
Uh… no. Not as far as the Macalope knows anyway.
Why would you say that? That was just weird.
Anyway, no, it’s Microsoft. Because of a patent settlement with HTC, the company reportedly makes $5 off every Android phone HTC sells, for a total of $150 million—that’s $120 million more than the company’s made off of Windows Phone licensing. While that disparity is humorous, $150 million is a rounding error for a company that just dumped $8.5 billion on a VoIP application people love to hate. Still, that number might grow, as Redmond is pursuing licensing agreements with other Android OEMs.
The lesson here, kids, is that if you want to make money off of Android, don’t code Android apps. Invent a time machine and go back and patent some phone technologies.
You should probably also patent the time machine while you’re at it.
[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]