"Talk to me"
At about 330 downloads and 150 active installs, the feedback I'm getting from blueBill Mobile customers is very small. It mostly comes from people in a birders' forum where I posted a notice about the app; while the feedback brought from the Android Market infrastructure is practically zero. The point is not related to the small quantity of comments (it's natural), but by their poor quality: short sentences, which often don't let you understand what's happening, and the incapability of setting up a conversation. Consider, for instance, the latest comment I've received:
Not many birds to choose from on the list included. Nice app though. (3 stars).
Now, blueBill Mobile provides support for almost 1,000 bird species (and for 680 of them it has got 6,000 available call recordings), that are precisely all those you can see in Europe, some adjacent Asian countries and northern Africa (including extreme rarities). So, the problem is not related to the number of birds, but to the world region in which the application brings some value. Now, what the commenter is asking for? Is she aware of the whole 1,000 birds list? Is she aware of the fact that in Europe she won't be able to see more? Perhaps is she from USA and wants North American birds? How can you guess what your priorities must be with such a poor communication (poor because of the channel, not necessarily because of the commenter)?
On the other hands, as I said, the standard channels are working (forum, email). I've got an email explicit request for North American birds and I've scheduled support for 2,000 more species for that world region by the end of July.
The point is now to try to convey as many as customers I can to the forum and the other channels. But as many of them could download the application from the Android Market without hitting my site, I need to give them some hints. That's why in release 0.13.0 I've added a simple RSS reader, connected with my website blog feed, and equipped with a notification mechanism that warns when there are unread news. I've seen that it's a common solution adopted by other applications - and in future it could even provide an explicit notification about available updates.
For the record, as I told you some time ago, targetting Android 1.5 means that you don't have XPath support. But, after the initial blues, I was able to use Dom4J + Jaxen without much effort for parsing my RSS feed. I suppose the next thing will be the opposite channel, that is a simple form to submit feedback (and possibly bugs directly to my Jira).
As a last point, for now, I've decided to target more alternative stores in addition to the Android Market: AndAppStore, SlideMe and AndSpot. I'll let you know how they work and whether they are better than Google. But now let's give to Google the deserved kudos since they let competitors exist - and let you distribute the same apps in multiple ways.