Android app downloads eclipse Apple's iOS in Q2

Jason Ankenyeditor's corner

With Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system controlling 48 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, more than double Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS at 19 percent market share according to recent Canalys data, it was only a matter of time before Android application downloads surpassed iOS app installs. That time is now: Android downloads represented 44 percent of all mobile app downloads in the second quarter, compared to 31 percent for iOS, reports ABI Research. Credit Android's open-source ethos: "Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores," explains ABI research associate Lim Shiyang in a statement. "These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market."

Android's worldwide install base now exceeds iOS by a factor of 2.4-to-1; at the current pace, Android devices will top iOS by a 3-to-1 margin by 2016. But even though total Android app downloads now lead iOS, Android downloads per user still lag behind iOS 2-to-1. "Apple's superior monetization policies attracted good developers within its ranks, thus creating a better catalog of apps and customer experience," says ABI mobile services practice director Dan Shey.

The differences between the Android and iOS ecosystems are further underlined by new data from Research2Guidance, which reports there are now more than 500,000 apps in Google's Android Market, about 100,000 behind Apple's App Store. However, roughly 37 percent of Android apps were later removed from the storefront for various reasons, while Apple has cleared out just 24 percent of published apps. Research2Guidance theorizes that the App Store's more stringent submission requirements restrict developers from publishing multiple trial or subpar applications, while Android Market's open-door policies pave the way for more market tests, demos and even malware. Moreover, 78 percent of applications removed from Android Market were free, suggesting that developers put less effort into maintaining and updating apps without premium price tags.

Android developers are far more productive than Apple's, Research2Guidance adds. The average Android developer has published more than six apps since Android Market launched three years ago, compared to just over four apps from the average iOS developer. At that pace, Android Market will boast a larger inventory than the App Store sooner rather than later. But the numbers don't matter: It's app quality that counts, not app quantity. Just ask the iOS device owners downloading twice as many apps as their Android counterparts. -Jason