Comparison shopping: Android Market vs. the App Store

Google's Android Market hasn't been open a full week, but already some application download patterns are suggesting how the OS will compare--and contrast--with Apple's rival App Store. In its first 24 hours of business, Android Market (which went live in tandem with the commercial release of T-Mobile USA's G1, the first Android-based device) offered consumers their choice of 62 applications, roughly 10 percent the number available when the App Store launched; according to data released by mobile ad firm Medialets, the average app tallied more than 7,800 downloads on the first day, with nine applications cracking the 10,000 download barrier. Among the nine, only three--Pac-Man, Brain Genius Deluxe and Bonsai Blast--are games, the largest single category of Android apps; price-comparison tool ShopSavvy (one of the 10 apps awarded $275,000 as part of Google's Android Developer Challenge competition) led all downloads, followed by The Weather Channel and music discovery service Shazam.

Granted, 24 hours isn't enough time to accurately judge anything (except maybe a primetime action series starring Kiefer Sutherland) but it's interesting to note that Android Market's opening day unfolded a lot like the App Store's first day of business. Medialets contends that either Android users are generally interested in the same types of application functionality as iPhone owners, or else Android coders are pursuing the same creative avenues as iPhone developers before them--no matter what, the distribution of different categories of applications is strikingly similar across the two storefronts. Both Android Market and the App Store boast more games than anything else, followed by multimedia applications, lifestyle apps, travel apps and productivity tools. Of course, the App Store launched with 552 applications, only about a quarter of them free--by comparison, all of the Android Market apps are free, and will remain so through early 2009. And while the number of applications available in the App Store grew to more than 800 within three days, third-party developers had to wait until Monday to upload their applications to Android Market. Google's laissez-faire approach to application registration and publication still promises to radically expand the scope of what Android is and what it does, but at least for now, Android Market and the App Store are more alike than different.

The similarities between iPhone and Android do end there, however. As developers can tell you, creating applications for one platform is a radically different proposition from writing code for the other. Click here for a FierceDeveloper web exclusive spotlighting five things all iPhone and Android developers need to know. -Jason