Carmack Counting Chickens, Not Laying Eggs

Carmack, in an enjoyable interview with NowGamer, said, in response to the question“With Rage HD on iOS do you see yourself ever working onAndroid?”

Every six months I’d take a look at the scope of theAndroid, and decide if it was time to start really looking at it.At the last Quakecon I took a show of hands poll, and it wasinteresting to see how almost as many people there had an Androiddevice as an iOS device. But when I asked how many peple had spent20 bucks on a game in the Android store, there was a bigdifference. You’re just not making money in the Android space asyou are in the iOS space.

Presumably he’s talking about $20 in total purchases rather thanfor any individual game, as I don’t think there’s a single gamecosting $20 on either the Android Market or the Apple AppStore.

iOS has proven to be a very lucrative market. iOS is not thetopic of this entry any more than the PC or the Mac markets are.It’s simply a different target, and whether Carmacksupports it or not has limited impact on making themarket: I can’t get Netflix on my Android devices, whichsimply gives me a good reason to not subscribe to Netflix.

However to Carmack’s comment, here are the apps I’ve purchasedon my Android device-

  • Raging Thunder 2
  • In the Kitchen: Recipes, Chefs (the Food Network)
  • WeatherBug Elite
  • Fruit Ninja
  • NFL.com Game Center 2010

That’s it. Pretty cheap, right?

Of course I have a large number of other applications, but therest are free (whether I like it or not). Most of them are fullygratis (like the excellent RealCalc Scientific Calculator andConnectBot apps), others are ad supported (the three outings ofAngry Birds, IMDB, Flixters Movies, and on and on), while two moreare subscription/specially supported: Rdio and Kindle.

Am I one of those cheapos, given that my total spend is probablyaround the $20 mark?

Not at all. My Steamcatalog is absolutely brimming with hundreds of dollars ofpurchases, extracting probably $30 more each month for games Ioften don’t even really care that much for. I listen to my musiclegally via purchases (puretracks) and my Rdio subscription, and mycable bill comes in at some $200+ monthly.

I’m a very happy consumer (and creator) of content, alwayslooking for the opportunity to pay for it.

So why then the limited app purchases?

That’s the whole Chicken and Egg thing. Carmack is ignoring theAndroid market because there are limited purchases occurring, yetthere are limited purchases because people like Carmack ignore themarket, leaving a dearth of polished, credible gamesand applications.

Others, like Rovio, are making a windfall, though for various reasons they went theadvertisement route. I suspect that has more to do with it beingeven more lucrative in the long run than it being anyindication that Android users won’t pay up. I’d happily pay forAngry Birds, but I don’t even have that option.

But Carmack waits. And when he does come along, once the marketis robust and the numbers are big, it will be among an onslaught oftop tier creators. His opportunity to clean house will be gone.

Which is all a little short-sighted.

A show of hands — how many readers have paid for personalsuborbital passenger flights I’m not seeing many hands raised.What can I conclude from that?