I like tinkering in mobile apps but don't want that pressure. I created an app to scratch an itch. It's not great but it works. It was published a couple years ago when not many apps with comparable functionality existed and has built up a group of steady users. I recognize many Android apps are undesirable but put mine one level above that category (the UI is not pretty).
So why should developers self-publish apps that don't make any money?
- It's fun!
This is my primary reason. Don't you like seeing your software being used? My users' data gets stored remotely so the more rows I see added, the more I know people are using it. Also, I love getting emails from people who just say "thanks".
- Great technical experience
I fancy myself as a full-stack engineer so this has been a great way to see something through from beginning to end. I get to touch lots of different technologies - client code, security layers, database endpoints, etc.
- Do something different
I don't cook up mobile apps in my day job. At least now I can talk reasonably intelligently about Android, AWS, and Google App Engine.
- Get the first one out of the way
Maybe one day I'll want to build something independently for profit. Ever get the feeling you don't know what you don't know? I feel like this experience will help me avoid that problem, at least partially.