How I spent $280 on Android Apps

I have spent $280.69 on 129 Android apps in the Play Store since I bought my Motorola Droid on October 17th, 2009. That’s average of $2.18 but that doesn’t mean much because there are a number of apps I bought on sale for less than $.99. I haven’t accounted for the number of free apps that I’ve downloaded and installed but it’s probably north of 500.

I decided to take a look at how I spent that cash by downloading my transactions from the Play Store and putting my pathetic Excel skills to work. Onward!

Sorry for the reverse order, but this is my average spend per year. Even though 2009 is a partial year, its third highest for spending because I bought Touchdown Exchange for 9.99 and Docs to Go for 14.99. 2014 is also a partial year, but I think my purchasing is slowing down. In 2012, I bought a number of games and other tools. Yikes.

image

Here is a break down of apps per year. It’s a crappy chart and the colors run together, but the upshot is … Nah, it’s a crappy chart. And redundant. Just look at the pretty colors and move on.

image

Here is another view of my spend based on category. The category is from the Play Store. Tools are mostly system tools like Llama (automation), File Browsers, Wi-Fi tools, and so on. I’m not big on in app purchases (IAP)overall. I only spent $10.93 but I use those items often and they were additional features to the app added well after the fact.

image

I took the top 8 apps based on volume and plotted out the average price of the apps I bought per category. The Business would be higher than $5.69 except that I bought two font packs for OfficeSuite Pro for $.25 which brought that price down. Removing those raises the average price to $9.32. Today Touchdown Exchange is $19.99 and Docs to Go Premium is still $14.99.

Finally, I broke down the number of apps I bought in price ranges ending with anything over $5.00. I bought almost as many apps under $.99 (on sale) as I did at full price up to $1.99. There are few apps that I bought that were more than $5.00. They are mostly productivity tools with Docs to Go being the most expensive at $14.99.

image

A few parting thoughts:

I bought each of these apps once and used them across three different devices (two phones and one tablet). Some of these apps I’ve had for over 5 years with updates (going from Android 2.X to 4.X). That is incredible value.

I think the quality of the apps I have bought is overall outstanding especially considering what I spent. There are some apps that I bought even though I don’t use them just to support the developer. There are some apps that were rough at first but have improved with age.

For the most part, every app I have bought has also been available for the tablet and has been perfectly useable. I honestly can’t think of a single app that wasn’t useable on my tablet, though some, like Touchdown Exchange got better with a dedicated tablet layout.

There are, of course, a ton of free apps that I use as well and I am deeply appreciative of those who write software and make it freely available. I want to give you money!

There is one potential down side and that is support. Sometimes the developer is very responsive—I once spent the better part of an afternoon installing and testing iterations of an app to help a developer track down a UI issue. Other times the developer isn’t helpful (I had trouble with Box transfers with Titanium Pro Backup and was told it was a network issue. But I can reach box with the it’s app, the browser, and other apps. Just not with Titanium, I replied. They stood firm that it was a network issue. Um, no, it ISN’T.)

Android Needs A Human Face.

I have been a long time Android user. I like the OS, hell, I am even trying my hand at writing some Android apps, but every day I am less and less inclined to do so. The problem is that there seems to be a culture at Google that wants to keep the great unwashed, you and I, behind a wall of automated responses and less than helpful help pages. Google goes to great lengths to NOT talk to it’s users whether you are actually paying them money (commercial customers) or not (the rest of us).

Today I was going to check out an app that I purchased on the Play store a while back and had uninstalled. Purchased and uninstalled apps are displayed at the end of the My Apps list, which makes it easy to find them. When I look at the Play Store apps, my list of purchased and uninstalled apps were missing. Fine, not the end of the world, so I tried to contact support and guess what? There isn’t anyway to contact Play Store support on Android. Nothing in the app and there is no entry for Play Store in the Play Store app. All of the other Google app entries, Earth, Google+, so on, merely point to web pages in the section called “Contact the Developer.”

There is no way to contact support from the phone. So I go to my computer, and hit the Play Store and I finally navigated to a contact form where someone from Google Play Store Support will call you back. The support gentleman I spoke with was very nice, but couldn’t help, so he escalated. I’ll see what happens.

But why is this process so difficult, I wonder? Why make it so hard for someone to contact support for a mobile device? Hell, why should I have to go to my laptop to find a support contact for my smartphone? What if I was traveling and needed to get support and I didn’t have a laptop with me? Why not provide a support email account for such a critical app? Horrible.

But wait, there’s more! Did you ever find a bug in Android that you wanted to report or have a feature request? Do you know where to look to report bugs or make feature requests? If your not a developer, you don’t, because Google doesn’t want to hear from you. (It’s at the Android Issues list, btw. If you have a bug or want to request a feature look for one similar first, and then star it or if you don’t find it, add it.) There’s no easy way to find the Issues List except through search and how many people, regular users, think to do that?

While I like to joke about Apple’s Genius bar or that Apple is so good at support because they have so much practice, Apple gets it and they want you to have a good experience. A good support experience doesn’t sell a product, but it keeps customers happy after the fact.

I am not, right now, happy.