As It Nears 50K Apps, How the Android Market Can Take a Bite Out of Apple’s App Store

Google’s Android Market is on pace to cross the 50,000 application titles threshold this week, based on data from AndroLib, up from 20,000 just four months ago. But the Android Market needs a vast overhaul if it’s ever going to catch up to — much less surpass — Apple’s App Store, which offers nearly four times that number. Consumers need an easier way to both find Android software and to update existing titles, while developers need a hand marketing their software.

Apple took its store to the web earlier this year. Aside from offering consumers another place to search for software — and earn Apple 30 percent of every purchase — the online store provides software developers with search engine optimization advantages. By using proper keywords and Apple’s online web store preview, they can better market their wares.

Even after consumers find and install applications, the relationship doesn’t end there; software titles are routinely upgraded. Unfortunately, no currently available version of Android offers an “update all” function like Apple’s iPhone. My own Google Nexus One running Android 2.1, for example, finds updates for my apps on an almost-daily basis. But it requires a several-click process to actually install the latest upgrade to an application — a process that I have to repeat for every individual software title when an update is found in the Market on my phone.

With the Google I/O conference scheduled for May 19, look not only for Froyo, or Android 2.2, but also for enhancements to the Android Market and simpler application update features. In order to have a truly successful mobile platform, the quantity of useful software titles is only half of the equation — Google needs to address the other half by enhancing the user experience.

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Chart courtesy of AndroidLib

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