Build a Free App Build a Following

There are many reasons to build a free app, most notably so that you can build a following for your apps. Perhaps your goal is not to make money right away from your app but to get your name out there in the development world. Building a free app has a number of benefits, including the following, you'll want to consider as you build your company:

• Build an app to showcase your development skills. If your goal is to develop apps for other people, you can use a free app to demonstrate your skills to potential clients. You can create a free app that you can post to the Android Market and gain experience building an app. When potential clients want to see a sample of your work, you direct them to the Android Market to download a copy of your app. An app that has many downloads will help convince clients to use you to develop their apps.

• Build a free app for future sales. Many developers build free apps first with the intention of charging for these apps after they have built up a following. However, in certain studies of app sales, a free app that gets changed to a paid app often sees a significant decline in sales after the switch.

Other studies have indicated that even if the app developer moves the app back to free after trying to charge for it, the damage has been done and the number of free downloads is still impacted even though the price is set back to free. It appears that the momentum is broken at that point when a free app is altered in any way.

It is probably best to develop a free app and leave it as free and then create another app that is paid after you monitor the downloads and level of interest around the free app. This will allow people to download your free app without risk and then purchase your paid app if they like what they see or want to obtain additional functionality.

• Build a free app to support other products. Perhaps you are selling another product that can benefit from you building an Android app. You can develop a free app that can either be used to complement your other products or help you to strengthen your brand. One example of this is an app from TMZ. This app shows you the latest news for TMZ. This app has had tens of thousands of downloads and has helped TMZ to strengthen their brand. The TMZ app's main screen is shown in Figure 14.1.

Figure 14.1 The TMZ app is a free app that is used to strengthen the TMZ brand and generate awareness about the shows.

• You are new to Android development. If you are new to developing apps, creating a free app might be the best route to take as you get your feet wet. Building a free app takes the pressure off you to make money right away on the app. However, unless you have very deep pockets, you should build your free app as inexpensively as you can without sacrificing quality. Use this as an opportunity to learn the Android Market sub-mittal process and make your mistakes with a free app.

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