This tweet, from Android Developers’ official twitter account would bring a lot of joy to all Android aficionados and Apple haters out there. The Android Market reached an impressive tally of 1 Lakh Applications. The actual numbers for the Android Market have been an area of confusion, with the world having to rely on unofficial estimates from the likes of Androlib. The veracity of which is always an issue.
The figure by itself is impressive but pales in comparison to that of its biggest rival. Apple’s App Store is estimated to be closing in on 300,000 apps (over 280,000 at last count). While the two ‘Application Markets’ come from two highly contrasting schools of thought, they are in the same business – selling apps.
This is where the real challenge for the Android Market lies. It has a significantly higher percentage of free apps and lower revenue earning potential for developers as compared to Apple’s App Store. In fact, an article in the New York Times earlier in the week had a quote that summed up Android’s dilemma - “Google is not associated with things you pay for, and Android is an extension of that. You don’t pay for Google apps, so it bleeds into the expectations for the third-party apps, too.”
Personally, I’m not a fan of Apple’s closed Eco-system and I cant come to terms with a phone that doesn’t let me open it up. But the numbers make it very hard to criticize their ‘business model’. The idea behind developing applications for an eco-system is to earn money. It is very hard to do that with users who don’t expect to pay, and in the long run could represent a problem for Google’s Android. They will need to do a lot more than offering them free Google TVs.
In Fact, App store Analytics firm Distimo’s latest report on the App stores stated that number of free apps on the Android Market was 57% compared to 28% for the iPhone. The figures are based on data till June’10 and fall in line with the long term trend. Here’s a chart based on more recent data from Royal Pingdom, which estimates that percentage to have gone beyond 60%.
While the growth rate of the number of Apps is certainly impressive(Android Market has been around for just under 2 years) it is revenue generating potential that will rope in developers. On that count too, Apple has a clear lead.
Is Google’s ‘Give Stuff for Free’ policy hurting Android? Or will it finally catch up with Apple’s App Store. Let us know what you think?