Google announced this week that downloads for apps on mobile Android devices have been downloaded over 10 billion (with a b) times through the officially sanctioned Android Market since the launch of the platform several years ago. While that’s an impressive stat in and of itself, Android users are now downloading over 1 billion apps every month, a pace which rivals that of Apple users’ app downloads through the App Store.
Considering it took about 20 months for Android to serve its first billion apps, and another five to reach 2 billion, the increase in growth rate is significant. As recently as May of this year the total number of app downloads—free and premium versions—was 4.5 billion. Now, every thirty days, another 1 billion unique downloads are processed through the Android Market.
In the blog post making the announcement, Eric Chu, Director of the Android Developer Ecosystem, writes:
One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing. This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads—with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month. We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012.
Android won’t surpass Apple users in app downloads anytime soon, however—iOS apps in the App Store number about 20 billion total unique downloads, and Apple is also seeing about 1 billion downloads every month. Apple says it has paid out over $3 billion to iOS developers in total, an alluring figure if you’re a new developer getting into the market (pun intended).
But new developers are likely more focused on the number of new downloads per month on a given platform, and Android is looking to soon surpass Apple on that front. With 550,000 new Android devices activated every day, the rate of growth is expected to surge in the near term. Additionally, Android phones and tablets allow third-party app markets to be installed, meaning the total number of apps downloaded through the Android market is probably understating the real amount of applications being served (to what extent is not clear). Apple’s iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches) are closed systems, whereby the only way to install an app is through the App Store.
The sheer volume of manufacturers adopting Android plays a big part in the OS’s growth in app downloads, but volume isn’t everything. The conventional wisdom among the development community is that Android users are less likely to download premium apps than Apple users which, if true, cuts into potential revenue for Android-only developers. The fact that Google won’t disclose the amount of money it has paid out to Android developers signifies that it’s not quite ready to boast about the figure.
On the other hand, some developers don’t see this reluctance of Android users to buy premium apps. TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid spoke to Jeremy Statz, founder of Kittehface Software, an Android development company. Statz has been building Android apps for years, and says the discrepancy between Android and Apple users isn’t something he encounters with his products. Kincaid:
I also asked Statz about Android users’ willingness to actually pay for apps…Statz says he hasn’t witnessed this trend — even since the early days of Market, he says the number of users converting from the free version of his Live Wallpapers to the 99 cent premium versions has been around 2% (he says 1% is generally considered “good”).
Granted that this is just one developer’s experience, but, if part of a bigger trend, Apple could soon have Android breathing even heavier down its neck. Unfortunately Google’s no-comment on payout figures for development companies leaves some doubt over whether Android users are as willing to pay for products.
There’s good news for the more frugal Android users — in recognition of hitting the 10 billion download mark, some of the top apps in the Android Market will be selling for a mere $0.10 until December 16th (they’re regularly priced between $.99 and $6.99), so get them while you can.
Image via Google
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