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The unique device market in Indonesia, where feature phones continue to dominate the market, makes it favorable for application makers to continue developing for the platform, which also allows developers to make money in
a big way.
Although the Java platform is often overlooked by many developers who prefer iOS and Android, a developer studio in Bandung, Agate Studio, has chosen to maintain its focus on making Java-based games.
They have developed dozens of Java apps for themselves and for custom orders from large companies.
According to Nikki Dibya Wardhana, Agate Studio’s product manager, they were not concerned that most developers leaned toward smartphone apps, or that the market was slowly shifting toward smartphones.
This is because feature phones still have a big following in Indonesia, capturing more than 80 percent of the market.
“The feature phone market is still the largest in Indonesia and, hence, supports the most common platform,” Nikki said.
“We are trying to capture this local market,” she added.
Agate also finds it viable to develop Java apps, considering that the business of making these apps allows the studio to support a staff of 70, mostly made up of developers.
The studio pointed out that making money from the apps, which are available in the Nokia app store, was easy given that the Finnish handset maker shared revenues generated from app sales and facilitated in-app advertising.
“Our for-sale apps are priced around Rp 10,000 [10 US cents], and we get around 40 percent of the revenue,” Nikki noted.
The studio also earns money from developing apps for big brands wanting to engage consumers through apps.
Another platform that remains popular among developers is the BlackBerry platform, which has slid in global popularity as it faces strong competition from iOS and Android.
BlackBerry manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), has faced financial troubles due to its declining market share, compounded by the delays in launching their latest operating system, the BlackBerry 10.
Ibnu Maksum, a mobile application developer for BlackBerry, said he was “not worried” that the global popularity of the platform had declined.
This was partly because BlackBerry remained a good performer in the Indonesian market, he added.
Based on data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), shipments of BlackBerry smartphones totaled approximately 3 million last year, above Android-based devices, which accounted for 2 million shipments.
Another reason for Ibnu and many other Indonesian developers preferring to develop BlackBerry apps is because of the financial rewards.
Ibnu pointed out that he received a steady income from in-app advertising fees as well as from the BlackBerry Advertising Service, which is a support RIM provides to developers to gain funds from in-app advertising.
For his Nux radio player alone, which people can download for free, Ibnu can earn around Rp 7 million per month in advertising fees.
“I charge Rp 200,000 per month for every ad. There are around 35 ads on my app, so that’s roughly Rp 7 million per month,” he said, adding that he received an additional $350 per month from the BlackBerry Advertising Service.
He added that although he also made apps for iOS and Android, the revenues were not as high as BlackBerry. Google only allowed Indonesian developers to showcase, not sell, their apps in the Android Play Store, he said.
Ibnu further added that, ultimately, developers were flexible about platforms – ready to migrate to ones that allowed them to generate higher incomes.
“This is because developers have the ability to go on any platform,” he said. “So if this one tanks, developers can always migrate to others.’
Meanwhile, Oon Arfiandwi, a developer from 7Langit, pointed out that each platform had its advantages and disadvantages.
Android, for example, is open source. Hence, there are a lot of developers who share templates, program “components” and tool kits online for free.
“However, iOS is the easiest from a device standpoint because they have fewer models compared to devices running on BlackBerry and Android,” he said.
He added that brands requesting 7Langit to make iOS apps were interested in capturing the premium market.
“Although there are fewer iPhone users, some brands are more focused on iPhone because the owners have the money to buy an iPhone in the first place,” he said.
An iPhone 4S, the latest model released by Apple, can cost up to Rp 8 million while the cost of an Android-run smartphone can be as low as Rp 1 million.
He added that brands were not eyeing the Windows platform yet because the platform had not acquired a substantial number of users.