App Stores report for April 2011 : Android market growing but failing to monetize apps

I think i speak for a majority of developers when they say that the Android platform is notoriously difficult to monetize. The growth that the platform’s application store, Android Market, has seen in the recent months has been quite phenomenal. But what the growing size of the market does not show are the volumes of downloads. Distimo published its report focused on the fragmented app stores scene that gives us a better understanding of download volumes for apps across app stores. Here’s what you should take away from the report.

Even though the Android Market is overrun by free apps, apps find visibility to be an issue. The most popular app till date on the Android Market is Google Maps. Interestingly, around 20% of the free apps available in the Android Market have not even clocked 100 downloads, the figures reveal that the majority (51.8%) of free applications have been downloaded less than 1,000 times to date.

The number of downloads for paid apps is worse. 80% of all paid applications have failed to get more than 100 downloads. Distimo speculates that this may be due to Google’s ranking policy for the market. Google gives more emphasis on apps that have been doing better for longer. This reveals why developers on the Android platform are turning towards ad based monetization of apps. Android Market sales have been disappointing for developers, there are 5 games in the Android Market that have been downloaded over 250,000 times worldwide, compare this with the Apple App Store and the Apple App Store emerges a clear favourite for developers with 10 games for iPhone clocking 250,000 downloads in just 2 months!

So what is it that drives downloads on the Apple App Store? Distimo believes its the number of apps that get featured as top apps. Looking at the top charts in April, there have been 843 and 584 distinct applications in the top 300 free and top 300 paid applications in the Apple App Store for iPhone. Comparatively, there have been only 388 and 363 distinct applications in the top 300 in the Google Android Market. These figures show that in the Apple App Store for iPhone, many more applications achieve top application exposure, and therefore generate more downloads.

Google recently announced additional lists to the online Android Market and introduced a bunch of welcome changes hoping to attract more downloads from users. The unchanging top apps list has given way to more lists that show more localised content and are frequently changing. But is this too little too late? With the growing unhappiness around the Android platform, is this the beginning of the end for Android? Next month’s report should shed more light on that.

This month’s report can be downloaded at http://www.distimo.com/publications/

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