One of the best things about Google Chrome extensions is that they are so easy to develop. All you need to include in your build is an easy to configure manifest file that details how the extension should operate. Then you simply use the chrome browser to pack your extension into a .xpi file and you’re good to go.
You can either serve the extension from your own server or you can distribute it through the Chrome marketplace.
Google has not yet implemented a solution to sell extensions. The only reference to being able to sell extensions is through a thread found on the Chrome help forum.
One person “Blair” who seems to be a Google employee, has commented on that thread saying that “Google is very interested in enabling web developers to earn income from developing extensions, but they’re still investigating the best way to make this happen”. The last post from Blair was the 8th of May, 2010, so it doesn’t seem to be a top priority for Google to make this happen at the moment.
At present, only free extensions are included in the Chrome marketplace, but is there still opportunity to create an income from creating a free chrome extension?
You will have no doubt caught on to the fact that the “free” online business model can be quite profitable. Just take a look at sites like facebook or even google. If you can get the eyeballs, you can get a lot of advertising deals and the online world opens up to you.
So, let’s look at some of the most popular extensions in the marketplace and their stats. AdBlock, which is currently the most popular extension shows stats of 1,799,503 current users and 143,952 new weekly installs. These are pretty phenomenal numbers but what’s interesting is the developer says in his product description that he is relying on paypal donations to generate an income from this app. This suggest either that Google is not allowing monetization, or that users are going for apps without monetization ads, or simply that the developer has no idea how to monetize his extension.
What’s encouraging is the developer is obviously just a single person and not a huge company, which suggests there is room for the little guy in this marketplace and he must obviously be getting a decent amount in paypal donations as he says he has quit his full time job just to focus on it.
The question is, how much traction can a new app get on the marketplace?
It would seem there is some delay in google’s stats because I am finding quite a few apps with reviews and comments but no indication of number of users or download stats. I’ve found over 20 new extensions released just today in the “Most Recent” category and some of them have up to 15 ratings which indicates that there is some good activity possible for newly released extensions and quite a few new extensions being created everyday for Chrome.
I’m going to be looking further into Google Chrome extensions in the next few blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled for updates as I explore if it’s possible to make a decent income from Google Chrome extensions.
If you want to chime in about anything I have discussed or just to express your interest, please feel free to leave a comment below.