Android vs Apple on Apps: Status and Outlook
Regardless of how good the upcoming iPhone is and how well-received it will be by consumers – Apple will soon have to concede some of their key marketing arguments with the public as well as with the app publishers to the Android juggernaut.
In this post we are explaining why.
Monthly app downloads: Android will catch Apple by June 2012
Monthly app downloads are a key indicator for app publishers. This number gives app publishers a good feeling for the size of the market. Other indicators, like app revenue, are much harder to come by.
As of September 2011 Apple is still leading Android with 1.45B app downloads in that month vs 0.64B app downloads from the Android Market. However, we already see signs of things to come. In the last month we have seen the first countries where Android was outperforming Apple in terms of monthly downloads, specifically Poland, the Czech Republic and Portugal. One notable exception of this trend is South Korea. As late as February this year it was the second country worldwide with close to 9% of all Android Market downloads. Now South Korea only has 3,2 % of all monthly app downloads. The drop has been steady, not sharp. We would like to hear from any of you out there why this trend is happening. We have not seen it reported anywhere, yet. You can follow the development in our full break-down of app downloads by country each month.
Still, bottom line for app publishers is: In the coming months we will see a number of countries where Android becomes platform option number one if you are looking for the largest audiences.
Globally, according to our calculations, Android will catch up with Apple in June 2012. In this month both platforms will see 3,2 billions of downloads.
This prediction is based on the current hyperexponential growth (hyper-exponential means that the growth also grows) of downloads from the Android Market. Can it be sustained for another year? Our hunch is that the pace of growth will decrease slightly and the inflection point may be delayed for a month or two. However, we had this hunch already for a couple of months and we haven’t seen Android slowing down, yet. Apple, at the same time, will very likely just sustain its current growth rate – we have not seen any major deviations from its exponential growth recently.
Total app downloads: Android will catch Apple by May 2013
Total app downloads is a much less important indicator for app publishers. However, it caught on with the general public as Apple made a point of using this figure to argue its excellence.
According to our calculations, Apple will need to look for a different marketing angle by May 2013. By this time Android will catch up with Apple and both app stores will have totaled 88 billion app downloads.
Again, our calculations assume current growth rates which likely will change in the next two years. Especially Android’s current hyper-exponential growth is hard to maintain.
Number of apps: Android will catch Apple by August 2012
The number of apps is another indicator for market size. According to our calculations the Android Market will have more apps than the Apple App Store by August 2012. Both stores will have around 680.000 apps at that point.
The picture would have been much different if Google had not started cleaning up the Android Market from low quality apps. The monthly deletion rate has grown from 20% in November 2010 to 48% in July 2011. Each month more and more app publishers try to game Google’s app submission system and spam it with a lot of entries of what can only by considered junk apps. The Android team is deleting 10.000s of apps each month. This is an increasing problem for Google, we find. Apple’s deletion rate was 30% in August 2011 – the company deletes apps for various reasons. The deletion rate is number of deleted apps divided by number of new apps.
If Google didn’t delete any apps the Android Market would have overtaken Apple App Store in December 2011 already.
Let us know what you think. We are curious about your commentary, analysis, questions and feedback.