Sunday, August 18, 2013

Android Apps: Availability, Sales and Profits

Android apps were in the news a lot last week. One factor was a report from Canalys on the top 50 paid and top 50 free apps on iOS. I was amazed that an analyst firm would get things so wrong. Their findings in summary for the top 50 paid and top 50 free are:


  • Only 52% are both available under Android and are tablet optimized.
  • 30% are missing completely.

I really find this very amusing. Android only started shipping real tablet support late last July. The findings should have read:

  • Android tablets gets 52% of iPad apps in only one year.
  • Android tablet app creation accelerating rapidly.

But really, that's not the least of the problems with the Canalys report. They failed to point out that most of the "missing" apps are from Apple and for the most part have quality counterparts under Android. The Apple apps are: Pages, iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, iPhoto, Podcasts, iBooks, Find My iPhone, iTunes U, Find My Friends. Really only GarageBand doesn't have a good replacement.

Here's the list of the rest of the "missing" Android apps:

Paid Apps

Notability
Eden - World Builder
Bejeweled HD
Disney - Junior Minnie Mouseke-Puzzles (Disney)
GoodReader
FIFA Soccer 13 by EA Sports
Stack the States
Team Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbers HD
Skins Pro Creator for MineCraft
Bubble Guppies: Animal School Day HD
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Wildlife Count Along (Disney)
Sofia the First: Story Theater (Disney)
Monster's Inc. Run (Disney)
Calculator for iPad

Free Apps

Calculator Pro for iPad Free
Clash of Clans
Amazon Instant Video
NBC
Hay Day
Calculator Pro for iPad Free

Disney makes lots of apps for Android already, so one assumes the missing ones will be there eventually. For the rest, these apps fall into one or both of two categories, 1) games or other bitmap intensive applications that were done in a static way [i.e. made for only one screen size/dpi] and 2) apps from small developers that only can handle making them for one platform. Android has plenty of apps that similar to the missing ones, with Amazon Instant Video and NBC being the obvious exceptions.

The apps that were made in a static way are a problem for Apple as well. The reason the iPad mini has that tiny 1024x768 resolution and that Apple is having difficulty making a Retina version is that iPads only come in two screen resolutions. [To be clear, Apple has to jam all of those pixels in the Retina iPad into the much smaller iPad mini screen while trying to keep the extra strain on battery life in check - remember smaller tablets have smaller batteries.] Many iOS app makers have fixed bitmap art that simply cannot be scaled to other resolutions. Going forward, this is a serious problem for Apple, they will have great difficulty adapting iOS to run on the myriad of new devices that Android is already getting. (Examples: small tablets, large tablets, all-in-ones, TV sticks, laptop/tablet hybrids, home appliances, cars, really the mind boggles at the places where Android will be showing up.) Apple would have better used third-party developer time getting them to support dynamic screen sizes, than wasting it supporting the flat pastels and other fluff of iOS 7. Apple attempts to cover themselves by saying that the fixed sizes make for better apps, but MacOS, Windows and Linux developers have been successfully dealing with this problem for many years.

You may have heard Apple claim they have some very large number of tablet apps, but Android only has some small number. The dynamic sizing in Android can potentially handle all sizes and densities of screens. Only recently did Google start getting developers to say explicitly that they are supporting screens of various sizes. In truth, many Android apps designed for phones work acceptably on tablets, and even huge TV screens. Even early on, some developers assumed there would be tablets, so Apple really cannot say how many Android apps there are for tablets.

None of this is to say that Android has caught up with Apple in tablet software yet, just that they have made amazing strides. By Christmas of this year it will be difficult to find many holes in Android's lineup. This is greatly helped by the fact that Android is now shipping far more tablets than Apple is (62.6% vs 32.5%).


Developer support for Android will also be helped by increases in Android app sales and profitablity:

Google Play Revenue Up 67% Over Past 6 Months, Fueled By Japan & S. Korea

All those people with cheap Android smartphones have finally started buying apps


Also, developers just like Android better (bad news for Apple):

Mobile Developers: It's Not About The Money


Related Articles


Android equals Apple for top business apps availability on tablets

Despite it's title, this next article from the Guardian is not anti-Android, it is just a simple exploration of the phenomenon.
If Android is so popular, why are many apps still released for iOS first?

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