Mobile app developers have two platforms currently with installed user bases big enough to make them worth the effort. Building apps for iOS and Android have different challenges, and for one developer only iOS is worth the effort. In a blog post last week Mika Mobile, developer of several popular games for iOS and Android, announced the end of support for the latter.
"We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another - porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn't go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable."
The bottom line is there is not enough money in Android apps, even popular ones, to offset the significant amount of effort required by Android support. I find the statement about device purchases particularly interesting, as it never occurred to me that Android fragmentation requires developers to purchase a lot of devices just to make sure their apps support them.
Device purchases for support aside, it sounds like a constant battle to make sure a single app works on every new Android phone or tablet that gets released. It's not just Android fragmentation that is the problem, it's the various hardware in use that breaks apps from the sound of things. This developer admits he spends a lot of his time troubleshooting problems with new hardware, and then making his app work properly.
A certain amount of support is required for any app, but the bottom line must support that. This is not the case according to Mika Mobile, and thus they are pulling the plug on Android support. I doubt this situation is unique, and wouldn't be surprised to hear others dropping off the platform. Too many OS versions, too many devices with different hardware, and not enough revenue to support it all. This can't be sustainable by small developers looking to make it big.
The Battleheart game is still for sale in the Android Market at the time of this writing. Hopefully Mika Mobile intends to pull it soon as it can't expect to sell apps without supporting them.