Talking tech since 2003

It’s not exactly a new idea to hear that development for Google’s Android mobile platform is far less profitable than development on Apple‘s competing iOS; the platform utilized on Apple iPhones, iPod Touches, and the company’s wildly successful iPad tablet.  However, until now the only real evidence that we’ve seen of this phenomenon has been statements on the part of folks such as Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, who shared their own findings from within their operations.  Sure, these revelations were indeed informative and very intriguing to look at.  But for people like myself who are constantly thinking about the big picture there has always been that sliver of doubt and that question lingering about the true success of Android development.

But now the cloudy thoughts have been swept away with the release of a study that has concluded that Android applications aren’t all that heavily downloaded; and ultimately not profitable for developers.  With less than 20% of paid applications being purchased and downloaded on the Android platform, this study really makes me question just how Android developers are getting by.  Considering all the time and effort that goes into developing, testing, and releasing even the most basic paid app I am simply blown away at these low numbers; and I honestly feel for those who develop Android applications.

But why are the numbers so incredibly low?  Why is only one out of every five paid Android Apps selling (worldwide, mind you) at a level that can be considered remotely successful?  In the past, I have read a number of articles and studies that have concluded that the Android platform sports more free applications than the App Store used by Apple for the iOS platform.  For this reason, I was initially under the impression that the free and open nature of the Android platform simply attracted more hobbyist developers who developed applications as personal feats rather than quests for profit.

Even so, the same study concluded that only 80% of free applications had made it past the 100-download mark, with less than half of all free apps ever meeting 1,000 downloads.  For free apps, this still seems like an incredibly low number considering the fact that users have no risk in downloading and trying the free apps.

The one aspect that this has really made me curious about, though, is how many of the downloaded apps that people keep on their devices.  Especially with the freely available mobile applications, it wouldn’t surprise me if the downloads only lasted a matter of hours or minutes before being removed from the devices.  Moreover, I’d really like to see comparisons for Apple’s sales figures just to see the difference.  Having said that, though, I honestly believe that Apple’s figures would indeed be better because of how Apple handles App Store submissions.

Apple is known for being strict about what they will and will not tolerate within the App Store; something that has often been looked down upon by rejected developers and people eager to get their hands on apps (most notably Google Voice) that Apple simply refused to allow entry into the App Store.  At the same time, the fact that Apple goes over every app with a fine-tooth comb means that their expectations of quality are naturally going to be higher.  Taking this into consideration, I think that folks looking for an abundant selection of “apps” know to go with the iOS over Android.  To sum it up, I simply don’t think Android users have a huge care for “apps.”

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