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The Battle of the Apps: Google vs. Apple

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When it comes to Apple and the iPhone, it was a weekend of fear and loathing. From loving Google Voice to Apple’s pending doom, we read it all. While I agree with some of the points that were raised, I see little to no evidence that Apple and its iPhone platform are going to melt down anytime soon. Sure, Google’s Android is going to be a worthy competitor, but it’s likely to wound other mobile ecosystems, such as Symbian and Palm’s Pre, before derailing the speeding freight train being driven by Apple.

Many have already already made a case that Apple isn’t doomed, so I won’t bother. Instead, I would like to let the data from Flurry, a San Francisco-based mobile analytics startup, speak for itself. The data in this report is computed from a sample size of more than 1,600 live applications and 60 million consumers across four platforms: Apple (iPhone and iPod Touch), Google Android, BlackBerry and JavaME.

According to the data collected by Flurry, developer momentum for the iPhone platform shows no sign of abating. The number of iPhone apps is growing 14 percent every month, to stand at roughly 65,000 applications in July. At that rate, Apple’s App Store will have some 100,000 applications by the end of 2009.


Even more telling is the fact that over 1,000 new applications were started in July vs. less than 100 in January, representing a growth rate of about 30 percent every month.

“New Project Starts” among developers using Flurry Analytics provides a reliable supply-side indicator for the App Store economy. Since Flurry Analytics often is integrated early in an application’s development cycle, as early as six months before a new application ships, measuring this statistic tracks the strength of the application pipeline heading to market.

By that measure, things are looking good for Google as well. According to Flurry, Android saw the number of new application starts top 200 in July. The developer interest in Android OS has spiked –- to the tune of some 50 percent every month — mostly because of the pending release of more than a dozen Android-based phones during 2009. (Related: Will Google Lead the Way in Mobile App Innovation, from GigaOM Pro, subscription required.)


The growth of Android app starts and the convergence between Apple and Google is a warning sign for Apple to get its act together and start focusing on developers more proactively.


10 Responses to “The Battle of the Apps: Google vs. Apple”

  1. Om,
    Good post.
    My 2 cents , it will be iPhone platform followed by PALM WebOS.
    The rest including (Andriod ) will be junk in coming days.

    You need to focus on the work you are doing , in APPLE and PALM case , they are serious.

    Google and Microsoft has too many things going. RIM is just slow

  2. I dunno, Android has been around for awhile and hasn’t really gone anywhere especially compared to Apple. I’m starting to wonder if Google has the ability to get beyond the beta stage to a real product. i guess we will know when there are more Android phones out and how well they are accepted.

  3. Roman Geyzer

    Dear Om,

    1) I don’ believe I recall Jason Calacanis saying Apple was doomed…rather that WE were screwed if Apple’s continued anti-competitive practices were coupled with its continued success .
    2) I think this is an interesting analysis but as Greg Stein above mentioned, what really matters is quality over quantity. I don’t think 100,000 apps that all make fart-sounds is indicative of anything! To that point, I agree with Michael Arrington that the Android platform may be more compelling as virtually all native phone functionality can be integrated whereas Apple is restrictive.
    3) The real question is where is this all heading? Android and the iPhone OS are ushering in new form factors of computing as these OS’s will in all likelihood be incorporated into tablet-size machines that will probably do away with netbooks. Right now, there are two clear competitors and thank goodness for that.

  4. When we started the project hosting feature on Google Code, we were *very* specific to not talk about how many projects were hosted on Google Code [versus other hosting sites, such as SourceForge]. Raw counts really don’t say anything about the quality of the hosting site or the ecosystem.

    Counts of available applications are the same. Once you hit “critical mass”, then what does it matter? If I can find 90% of my desired utility among 1000 apps, then why do I care that 65,000 are present?

    This is also reminiscent of the number of “pages indexed” by the big search engines. Fools gold.

    Please look at whether the apps fill needs (general or niche) rather than pure numbers. That will be hard to do, so a probabilistic may be workable. “At 10k apps, this should cover 99% of users’ needs.”

    My last point/question is: does your mother and father *really* care about these apps? Do they demand the depth/breadth advertised and provided? I guarantee my mother would be oblivious, and my father would install maybe four apps. Could it be that all the ruckus is simply the echo chamber of the alpha geeks in our corner of the techie world?

  5. payam @Oviapplications

    Great Analysis. I’ve also done two recent posts on the state of Nokia’s Ovi application store and available apps in different categories that you will be able to read here:

    The fact remains that Andorid and iphone are truly the market leaders and others are just playing to catch up. Any developer will tell you that Symbian is a very complicated platform to build apps for and if Nokia wants to be a factor, they need to pay more attention to their devs as well.

  6. A very interesting competition is brewing between Google and Apple. Flurry has some great data, too. We’ve been commenting on the app vs. mobileweb debate on our blog – we think that factors into this just as much as who will win the app war.

  7. While looking at number of apps on a platform and new projects on a platform are good indicators , I would argue they are lagging indicators in nature. Market Adoption —Drives–> developer choice for app. Although in the past developer adoption was a leading indicator because developers would write applications on technology they could work with , today that is not the case. Pretty much all the platforms are easy to work with. Developers understand more about market and write to Market needs rather than technology fitment.