16 Comments

Summary:

Apple has just passed the 100,000 mark for apps available that are tailored specifically for the iPad. Compare that to under 200 for the Google’s Honeycomb tablet OS. It’s a margin that says the Android/iOS tablet battle isn’t the same as the smartphone war.

ipad-android-featured

Apple has just passed the 100,000 mark for apps available that are tailored specifically for the iPad, according to the App Store itself. That’s up from 50,000 at the end of 2010, and 2,000 at the iPad’s launch. By contrast, Google’s Honeycomb Android operating system launched with just 16 optimized apps according to Kevin Tofel, and now has only around 170 according to recent counts, after four months on the market.

To say that this is bad news for Google’s tablet hopes would be an understatement. Apps are increasingly the method of choice for consuming content on mobile devices, and the sale of apps is on pace to become a $38 billion industry by 2015, according to Forrester Research. It’s becoming apparent that app libraries drive tablet sales, not the other way around.

The iPad is winning in this respect by such a wide margin that it’s hard to call it a competition. Even by its own standards, the iPad App Store is doing well. The iPhone App Store took 17 months to reach the 100,000 app milestone. The iPad version achieved it in less time, passing the mark after 15 months. The Android Marketplace was already doing pretty well by the time the iPhone App Store hit 100,000 titles, with 20,000 apps available just a month later in December of 2009.

If the disparity in app libraries is anything to go by, the tablet battle between Android and iOS won’t mirror the one between the two platforms on the smartphone front. As some have suggested, it’s likely that Apple’s dominance in the tablet market will have more in common with the iPod’s performance among portable media players, which is very good for the future of iOS in general.

  1. This discrepancy in app numbers is way overblown. I bought a honeycomb tablet because I don’t care about the number of apps. Apple has persuaded consumers that they need an app for everything. I can navigate most websites on my tablet so I don’t need an App for everything.

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    1. Apps may not be important to you but they are important to a lot of people. A tablet is a significant purchase; they are quite a bit of money. It’s a purchase not just for today but for the future. A lack of choices would indicate to most people that the platform may not have much of a future, or a limited one, and that would affect their buying decision. You have decided that your tablet already does everything you need it to do, but that’s a sad attitude really. Wouldn’t it be exciting if your tablet could improve and do something totally awesome that you didn’t expect? Apple brilliantly rallied the troops – the developers – by creating a gold rush in app development, creating what amounts to an entire industry. And so development thrives, new ideas and concepts are presented, and nothing stands still. It’s always moving, growing, getting better, and new ideas, like webOS for example, come about. But I guess that doesn’t interest you, you already know your future. I think that’s the problem with Android. It has no imagination, and people are already bored of it.

      Just because Apple has chosen to do business this way doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Some people think that.

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      1. iOS has bigger number of apps because for example you can’t even play avi or wmv movie with builtin player… You have to purchase apps to be able to do what android offers out of the box

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    2. When you get to ~7″ and definitely 8″ and above Applications should look differently. They become much more desktop oriented than the hand-held small screen of 6″ and below.
      Apple is investing on both domains, thus win the “in-door” tablet war. Google is on top of the “mobile” tablet war. See my other reply below for more.

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      1. Your observation is correct. But to define it differently, Google is only strong in the under-$100 “tablets.” When you pay $500 or more, you expect something more than an OS barely out of beta, a handful of apps, and manufacturers who don’t provide timely upgrades, or upgrades at all.

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  2. Why would you use a random factor such as the number of apps available instead of another random factor such as actual market share, or for example, market share in the low end market to make your point?

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    1. The number of apps is “random?” Consider that every iPad app is purpose-built for the 9.7″ screen of the iPad. That shows developers are committed to supporting iPad. That is not random.

      You know what Honeycomb has a few hundred apps after months on the market? Developers know, and can see, that they can’t make any money selling Honeycomb apps for Android tablets. That’s not random.

      Claiming 500,000 activations per day without defining activations is far more “random” than actual real developer momentum.

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  3. This isn’t exactly true, I recentl bought an Android tablet & nearly all of my apps work/scale (take advantage of the big screen & resolution) properly.

    The problem is proper indexing, most of the apps being updated for HC don’t list themselves as “featured tablet. instead only add the HC compatible tag in their notes.

    My guess is since devs arent properly listing themselves that google willdrop the featured tablet apps all together

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  4. /agree!
    If I may challenge you with a thought here. I propose that the term TABLET is totally misleading. A smartphone is a tablet too. The question is are all tablets the same, and how we segment/categorize them.
    My answer is – that the industry is mixing way too much between MOBILE and IN-DOOR (home or office) tablets. Mobile tablets are probably anything which is 5″ and below and in-door are anything 8″ and above. 7″ is the mid-ground which may be on both sides – a somewhat gray area, which depends also on the way you usually dress.

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    1. one quick correction – mobile is probably 6″ and below not 5″. See Sony’s S2 which is probably my next gadget.

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  5. Apple tablets REQUIRE more apps because it’s the ONLY way to access a lot of mobile content on Apple tablets. When you have a browser that supports flash, a lot of apps become redundant.

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    1. Oh right. Flash support is why Android tablets are selling like hotcakes. *rolls eyes*

      No one cares about Flash support except the hardcore minority. The sales prove it.

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  6. You have to credit Apple with creating a UI experience that models for developers good app construction combined with the App policing of their store that helps create a quality user experience.
    Of course, it’s surely possible to do all this without the Apple overhead, but often the Apple ecosystem creates an engaging user experience.
    And the quality user experience always drives adoption.

    I will not be surprised to see the metrics run similarly for the foreseeable future.

    htkirk
    macintoshia: mac tutorial, mac classes & mac help
    http://macintoshia.com

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  7. “…When you have a browser that supports flash, a lot of apps become redundant…”

    By all accounts, Flash performance on tablets and cell phones remains mediocre at best, terrible at worst. It’s been four years since the first iPhone arrived and Adobe still has not been able to fix this problem. Some of the best Flash designers have given up on Flash entirely — because few clients want to use it. By now, it should be evident (even to blind Apple skeptics) that Adobe can’t fix this. Flash is dead and the “Flash on mobile devices program” is just a sideshow that Adobe is using to buy time until the company has new HTML5 Web development products to sell.

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    1. You’re absolutely right. Adobe’s Flash days are over. Steve Jobs singlehandedly wrote off any chance of Flash recovery with his very open and honest letter about Adobe’s ‘premiere’ product.

      It’s funny to hear both sides of the argument, the former that it’s a sin that Flash content cannot be generated on iOS and the latter that states this does not matter. I feel that the latter are all but correct in their assumption, especially when they are backed up by one of the most prolific figures in technology.

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      1. The fact is that Apple’s customers put money where their mouths/beliefs are. They say they don’t care about Flash, then buy devices like the iPad where Flash support is completely absent.

        On the other hand, Flash proponents keep claiming how important Flash support is for a tablet, yet no one seems to be lining up to buy them despite this “critical” advantage. And when it’s pointed out developers are also not building tablet-optimized apps, the argument is that you don’t need to because of Flash support, which somehow still results in no one buying Android tablets.

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