Rise of the planet of the apps

Is Google’s Android catching up with Apple’s iOS in the market for apps? With Android tablets and smartphones taking an ever larger proportion of the market, you would expect so. In the third quarter of 2011, 53% of smartphone shipments used Google’s Android system, compared with only 15% with iOS.

However, Apple is still ahead of Google in the share of apps downloads. To date, there have been 18 billion downloads from the iOS App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touchs compared with 10 billion downloads of Android apps. But Android downloads are growing faster and are set to overtake those of iOS apps in the coming months. This should be boosted with the new Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system.

But what about revenues earned from downloads? Here the picture is very different. Android Marketplace has earned around $330 million gross revenue for paid apps. Apple’s App Store, by contrast, has earned over 15 times as much: nearly $5000 million. The reason is that 99% of Android apps are free; the figure for App Store apps is 86%. But why is this so and how can Android earn revenues from its apps? And how can app developers earn revenues from the Android market? The following articles look at the economics of apps.

Android Vs. iPhone: The Economics Of Apps Financial Edge, Manish Sahajwani (6/1/12)
Google has an Amazon problem MSN Money, Jim J. Jubak (25/1/12)
Android and the economics of apps BBC News, Rory Cellan-Jones (7/12/11)
Apple Getting Best Of The Android Vs. iPhone Economics Forbes, Manish Sahajwani (6/1/12)
Fragmentation Is Not The End of Android cek.log, Charlie Kindel (14/1/12)


  1. Why are most Android apps free to download?
  2. What is the business model for (a) developing and (b) offering Android apps?
  3. How can money be made from free apps?
  4. What are the long-term strengths and weaknesses in Apple’s apps business model?
  5. Assess Amazon’s business model for apps for Kindle users.