New studies highlight app gap between Apple, Android

As Google and Apple continue their battle for mobile dominance through their Android and iOS operating systems, a pair of new studies report some interesting findings.

The first, a report by Xyologic, finds that “iPhone is for games, Android is for apps.” It found that of the top 150 downloads in November from the Apple App Store, 100 were games, and game downloads outnumbered app downloads by nearly a 3-1 margin (71.5 million to 25.6 million). Only one app developer (Instagram maker Burbn) was on the list of top 25 publishers of 2011 — the rest were game-makers.

On the Android side, 85 of November’s top 150 were apps, and those outnumbered game downloads by an almost mirror image 3-1 ratio (91.5 million apps to 33.4 million games). A number of game-makers were among the year’s top 25 publishers, but that list was topped by Google and Facebook, and included app developers such as Adobe, Skype and Yahoo, all of whom were missing from the Apple list.

(Personal note: That sounds about right — I have significantly more games on my iPad than on my Android phone.)

What’s it all mean? That the Apple platform is more friendly to game developers, for one, reports Venture Beat. Xyologic co-founder Matthaus Krzykowski tells them that payment issues have kept developers from the Android market, which tends to monetize more through advertising, while Apple games lean toward the booming free-to-play model where users purchase upgrades within the game. But Dan Rowinski at RedWriteWeb wonders if there’s a more sociological reason — are Apple users more affluent and do they have more free time on their hands?

Apple users certainly spend more money on apps. That was the finding in a second study, by analysis firm Distimo, that compared the top 200 apps in both the Apple and Android markets. Based on those sales, the combined App Store for iPhone and iPad reaped six times the revenue of Google’s Android market despite Android’s wide lead in smartphone market share. Distimo co-founder Remco van den Elzen tells Wired that he attributes the difference to ease of use — “Google Checkout is considered to be more cumbersome than iTunes.” With Apple, “the threshold for purchasing the first application is lower,” he said.

While none of this data is particularly new or groundbreaking, it is interesting to note the differences between the two platforms, and where future opportunities may lie.


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  • Justin

    Well… Instead of the possible monetary status of the Apple users being the difference, maybe it’s just that Android users use their devices for productivity instead of mainly a toy?

  • sd

    It would be interesting if they had compared figures for a few months *other* than the one just past, given the lead time the iOS devices have been in the market. And/or maybe sorted out apps which duplicate or enhance OS functions. Does it count as an “app download” for Android if it only provides a functionality that *ships* with the iPhone/iPad? No point to prove, really — just would be interesting to see if the apps/games ratio would hold over time.

  • Rich

    It would also be interesting to find out how much of the discrepancy is a result of Apple’s super-restrictive policies that deter functionality that duplicates (or competes with) functionality shipped in the OS. Applications like Google Voice were rejected arbitrarily and repeatedly by Apple, stalling their availability, apparently because Apple doesn’t like the heat. It would also be interesting to see what happens when you add Amazon App Store into the equation. Obviously, Android users can get their apps from more places than just the Android Market, while Apple is much better at making sure their finger is in every slice of pie.

  • Markus Unread

    “Google Checkout is considered to be more cumbersome than iTunes.”

    If Goo would cut the stubbornness and allow Paypal payments for apps they’d see a real jump.

  • Obb V. Us

    Just saying “iOS apps” does not give a clear picture at all of iPhone vs. Andriod. How many of those games were bought for the iPod Touch, which runs iOS… and is used by lots of younger people as a purely entertainment platform? How many were purchased on an iPad?

    Bad comparison gets bad results.

  • Gary

    “are Apple users more affluent and do they have more free time on their hands?” Come now??? Maybe it has to do with iPhone users only like to take advantage of their free time while Android users are trying to impress others with how productive they are? It’s all about taste! I HATE mincemeat pie, but I bet Android users love it, while I LOVE apple pie….. Guys, we are being their marketing…. pick the one you like and love it, articles like this are silly….I love my iPhone (get that…i PHONE) while others love their android (Data from Star Trek would be proud). Use what you like, like what you use. Or switch.

  • Zed

    I’ve never had an Android, but perhaps the difference may be related to the usefulness or quality of core/built-in apps on iDevices? I don’t know what Android devices contain, just out of the box, but perhaps there aren’t as many quality “daily use” apps, thus requiring more purchases of that type?

  • tony johnson

    are we seeing a replay of the apple vs pc wortld where the pc while being less easy to use quickly dominated due to useful business applications? It wouldn’t surprise me as Apple has never been a business tool on any of its equipment other than in graphics design and broadcast.

  • BNT

    Well, this certainly is not true because I use my android as a gaming machine. I ont like apple because of its restrictions and protections, such as DRM. Android is my only alternative. because of this issue stated in the info above, many good games never make it to android… and those that do arent as good. I may as well switch to ipad because of this. OR even better, as I am already doing, develop my own OS using OpenSB, compatability modifications with PayPal, and self-designed server-based games created with Multimedia Fusion 2.