Android Alternate Market Review – Samsung Apps

My latest favorite for deploying Android apps is Samsung Apps.  The results have been very good, and they have made the site a bit easier to use recently.

I already updated the Android Market Manager to handle Samsung, so I figured it was time to do a Samsung Apps review to explain this Android app store.  You can also find a lot more app market information in the Android Market Alternatives report.

Why is Samsung Apps my current favorite?  Read on to find out.

First, a basic warning.  Samsung’s site is a bit wonky.  They do things strangely… but they get things done.  The downloads are impressive enough for me to puzzle out their way of doing things.

The Good about Samsung Apps

While Samsung Apps is not available in the USA, they appear to have a strong presence around the world, as evidenced by download counts I have seen for both free and paid Android apps.

Of course download counts for some stores have been suspected of inflation, but the ad requests back up the download counts here.  I created a new ad ID for each of my Android apps on Samsung, and the results have shown that the ad revenue is on par or better than my other main channels.

I don’t know how things will look after the initial download spike dies down, but my initial results are showing higher results than Google Play, which definitely has my attention.  Don’t take that as gospel, though.  Some app stores have shown me high initial traffic only to have it dry up later (BlackBerry Appworld, for example).

UPDATE – after several months of high download counts, I can safely say that Samsung is a high-traffic market.

A few other points

  • The QA team provides detailed descriptions of issues (required and suggested) including video and pictures.  This makes it easier to resolve issues.
  • While the QA team is thorough, I haven’t felt that the required changes were unreasonable.
  • Their Remote Test Labs provide access to actual Samsung devices running Samsung Apps, so you can verify performance even if you can’t access the app store yourself.

The Not-So-Good about Samsung Apps

As for the quirkiness I mentioned earlier – it almost threw me off.  Expect to spend a little extra time figuring out what some instructions mean, or coming up with data you didn’t need for other app stores.

Actually, my first app submission was rejected by their QA team (which can take a few weeks to validate your app).  I didn’t bother to come back for months, but it turns out they really were worth my time.

However, once I took the time to update the Android Market Manager to cover Samsung as well, the cost to make apps Samsung-compliant wasn’t very high (I haven’t implemented their in-app purchasing solution yet).

The release process used to be very confusing, requiring 17 separate app submissions for the different targets (despite the fact that I would be using the same .apk for all of them).  UPDATE – They cleaned that up now, and you can submit one app submission for all 61 (currently – the list is growing) device categories.

Before you can sell a paid app, however, you have to get approved.  Their their approval process requires uploading documents to prove your bank account, business license, and such.  You’ll need a SWIFT number for international bank transfers to receive payments.  Beware if you let your session timeout, though, as you will see all of your info will submitted by unencrypted http.

If the previous bit scares you off, don’t worry – distributing free apps is still a great option.

I haven’t been paid yet, but I hope to find out how that process goes soon (given the high sales rates).  The graphs and reporting are counter-intuitive, but I did see strange things like $0.06 income from one sale – how are they arriving at this value?  Are my apps are being sold at cut-rate prices?  It hasn’t been worth my time to investigate further yet.  I’m just waiting for my first payment, but it may be a while as some carriers allow up to 6 months for payments to settle!

Lastly, the reporting is a bit weak – you can see everything in aggregate but you need to download the data to see the details.  There is no graphing by day, and the basic reports lump apps together by category.

Of course, Samsung seems to be releasing updates every few months so these complaints may be resolved sometime soon.

UPDATE – thanks to Yuri’s note, I discovered that the currency conversion is incorrect for a few countries.  For example, the Russian ruble value is maybe 15% of what it should be with the current conversion rate.  I contacted Samsung, and they indicated that this was intentional because they felt the price tiers they were using were more appropriate for the current economic conditions.  While yes I can set this price manually, I think it is unfortunate that Samsung doesn’t tell you this up front.  I do NOT have the time to check the dozens of conversion rates and correct them for all of my apps.  I have been pushed into pricing my app differently in different regions.

UPDATE- it appears that the currency exchange system has been updated again, so be sure to check how your app is priced if you are concerned.

UPDATE June 2013 – I’m a little concerned – I STILL have not received a payment, even though my sales through 6 months ago (the clearing period) have been WELL above the threshold for payment for a few months.  I have submitted a support ticket…

A Contest

Samsung is working to build their app catalog, so they are currently running a contest (it’s over now – hopefully they’ll do more soon).  Unlike a lot of other contests for Android apps, this one doesn’t require implementing their API or using special features (although you might get a bump by using Samsung’s AdHub or their S-Pen API) – they just want good apps.

Another good point about this contest is that it is judged purely on download count, rather than arbitrary criteria from a team of judges.  The consumers vote!

Despite some wonkiness with the entry procedure (which I’ve come to expect from Samsung), I suggest entering your free Android apps and games into the Samsung Smart App Challenge.  You may get some free exposure, and of course there are thousands of dollars up for grabs!

Update:  I certainly wasn’t a winner in this contest, but I wish they would at least show my final count/placement.  Silence on that front.

Conclusion

Now that I have updated the Android Market Manager to handle Samsung, the cost to create a Samsung-specific .apk is pretty small.

Coupled with the strong performance I have seen for my apps, this leads me to suggest that you investigate Samsung Apps for your free Android apps at the very least if not for your paid apps as well.

- – - -Android Market Alternatives

Hungry for info on more Android app stores?  For access to all of my reviews of Android app stores and markets, check out the Android Market Alternatives report.  It covers dozens of Android app markets in detail, with recommendations on the top ones to spend your time and effort on.  Samsung Apps is just the tip of the Android app store iceberg!

Posted in Android Markets permalink

About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.

Comments

Android Alternate Market Review – Samsung Apps — 12 Comments

  1. Great review. I’ve been using Vodafone 360 for a while and your review sounds exactly like my impression of that, especially the bit about making several demands, but all of which are reasonable, and providing detailed QA results.

  2. >The graphs and reporting are counter-intuitive, but I did see strange >things like $0.06 income from one sale – how are they arriving at this >value?

    Set price for each country separately. There is some mistake, and currency conversion is not working properly: for example $ 1 should be approximately 30 rubles, not 5. Yet there are countries in which the sell by SMS, Ukraine, for example, the operator takes 80% of income.

    • Wow, thanks for letting me know. I verified a few of the currency conversions, and they are indeed very wrong! I’ll need to investigate this further – hopefully they correct this problem soon.

  3. I really like your blog! I just started going fulltime as a game developer half a year ago. Still struggling to survive!

    I’m mainly using Google Play and Amazon right now, and 1 China store called NDoo. Google Play is giving me most of the revenue, not directly but via 3rd party services like Mobclix/Tapjoy/etc..

    I tried Samsung last week and was rejected and haven’t gotten back to them yet… Perhaps I will now!

    Anyway, if you are interested in my first “professional” game, feel free to drop by https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vnlentertainment.badnerd

    Cheers,

    Nepoez

  4. Great post as usual. I’m just wondering if you’ve considered MoVend as a multi-marketplace In-App solution? I have not, and just about to evaluate and it’s alternative payments solutions looks quite interesting. It but it is non-opensource so the ability to integrate Samgung Marketplace would be a problem.

    I am also looking into a few projects on GitHub that have extended (or attempted to) the RoboBilling library to support Amazon but they are a bit alpha-ish so I’m in the process of implementing my own solution.

    I would love to see what you have got up to, and I’m finding making abstractions between Amazon, Google IAB and Paypal quite a headache.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. I now have Google and Amazon in-app billing integrated, but haven’t done PayPal yet. The integration effort was annoying, but it’s done and I abstracted it out so it should be somewhat reusable. I should look into making a software package out of it…

      As for MoVend, I was intrigued but there are a number of red flags:
      1. The library requires a few more permissions, and I don’t like adding permissions to my apps
      2. The free option ($0.05 per sale, or ~7% of your cut of a $0.99 purchase) seems ok, but that version has ads.
      3. All of their interesting features (beyond Amazon and Google, which I already can do) cost $30/month+

      Not right for me, but it might be good for others – it depends on where you start from (existing code) and how painful the remaining integration work appears to be. It might also be a good choice if you have a gap where you can’t currently bill and they can cover it.

  5. “The release process used to be very confusing, requiring 17 separate app submissions for the different targets”

    At my request (and probably not only mine :) ), they changed their approach : now you can in one submission check all targets.

  6. Have you been approved to sell paid apps on the Samsung market? I visited the Samsung site but it seems like it is down for maintenance right now. I am wondering about Samsung requireing a “business license” to sell paid apps.

    • I am an approved seller. I think I remember a notice about scheduled downtime, but it should only be for a day or so.

      I have a business license from my city that I sent a scan of in, but I thought that if you registered as a person (as opposed to a business) that they just required a gov-issued ID. I might be remembering a different store though… I do remember that Samsung was annoying to get set up with all of the required docs.

      It’s definitely looking like it will be more than 6 months before I see any money from my paid apps, though. The payments just take forever to clear.

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