Android Owners Love Free Apps


Smartphone owners love free apps, but none as much as those toting Android (s goog) phones, according to new data from Distimo. Approximately 25 percent of apps downloaded across all smartphone platforms were free apps with the exception of Android, where a whopping 57 percent of the apps grabbed were free. The Dutch analytics company finds that games are the most popular apps across all platforms — 90 percent of the most popular free apps and 80 percent of the most popular paid apps.

Twitter is still a popular social network for the Apple (s aapl) and Android crowds according to the new numbers. The official Twitter app was recently released for both the iPhone and the Android platforms, and quickly moved up the chart of the most popular free apps. It has already captured the number 10 spot on the iPhone free app list and number 6 on the Android chart.

Amazon (s amzn) only recently released an Android version of its Kindle reader app, but it has been out for the iPad since that device’s launch date. Apple has its own iBooks reader app on the iPad, and the numbers indicate it is kicking Amazon’s Kindle app to the curb with iBooks. Both reader apps are on the ten most popular apps list, but iBooks is in the top position and the Kindle app has the bottom spot. That disparity is somewhat surprising given how long the Amazon Kindle market has been in business compared to Apple’s new iBookstore. Most likely it reflects how hard Apple is pushing iPad owners to install the iBooks app.

Distimo’s look at the top 100 grossing applications on each platform points to the money-making opportunities the Apple App Store provides to developers. The average app price for both the iPhone and iPad top grossing apps was almost double that of the other phone platforms. The top 100 grossing apps on the iPhone were higher priced than those on the iPad; they averaged a smooth 36 percent higher average price than the top grossing iPad apps. Of course the iPhone apps have a bigger head start than the iPad apps, given how short a time the iPad has been on the market.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?


Apple cheated me

FREE APPS are not always free. I should have listened to my mother when she said “nothing is for free”! I was charged $680 over 2 months from FREE apps. Not anywhere in the app store does is state anything but free on the apps we downloadedt for our phones. Free solitaire-we were charged $40, free city search-we were charged $99.!and on and on…when we contacted apple we said it was false advertising they said it was not their responsibility to the consumer, that it was the game vendors’ responsibility. Nice of Apple to totally wash their hands of any guilt! I feel deceived, cheated and down right pissed off!! Check your iTunes acct I guarantee many of you have been charged for FREE games as well.

Paul Schoe

Lucian Armasu is right. Discussions groups all over the world have users who want to buy Android but the Android Market does only allow them to download the free apps. Paid apps are only available to a couple of countries.

Developers are actively being blamed by users that have their free apps and now want to upgrade to the paid version but for those living in the majority of the world, there is not system to do that.

The numbers say therefore more about the limits of the Android market then about the nature of Android Users. It sometimes even really funny to read on forums that users are really begging for a way to pay to upgrade their Android apps to paid ones.

Some items you can’t catch in research and those might lead to wrong conclusions about the underlying numbers.


I’ve bought around half a dozen apps on my Droid (XScope, Tasker, Newsroom, Beautiful Live Weather, Documents To Go Pro, Carrom3d Pro) of the around 100 applications installed.

Even the ‘free’ applications have in app ads, so the developer is getting money from me using their application. There are only a few free applications without adverts, so there are basically three types of application: Paid, Ad supported, and free.


Android users have a lot of free services built-in, so the need to purchase say a Navigation app is not there. I honestly can say that my EVO came loaded from the factory with literally a lot of good apps. Almost a Lexus experience, where Apple is like a darn Mercedes-Benz, everything is an add on including leather seats.


I’m confused. I thought that the Android OS was better than iOS because it is free and open. I was told in all these blogs and comments that iOS devs were leaving the iOS for Android. But why would any
Developer give up money and income to make free apps because Fandroids want everything free?


I suspect there are a few reasons for this.
* The Android development tools are not on par with iPhone development tools. This makes it more challenging to develop an Android app and helps contribute to lower quality apps.
* In terms of the number of steps it’s not as easy to pay for an Android app as it is to pay for an iPhone app. Apple made it stupid simple and forced all users who browse the store to setup an account with a credit card.
* Unlike Apple the Android marketplace hasn’t been curated so it’s got a lot of duds. I’d be nervous to pay money.
* People often associate “open” with “free.” Good luck convincing them they should actually pay for something.
* The Android OS is still extremely rough which means that consumers and developers are unlikely to adopt it as their first choice, the developers who do are more than likely to be Tier 2 developers (it’s also a smaller # of developers and they are more likely to care less about making money and are just hacking on a pet project – ie “let’s try to hack together an app this weekend” vs “let’s try to make something that will allow me to quit my job.”)
* The Android marketplace doesn’t have a rich consumer experience, there’s been very little effort put into tightening it up as a store with goods for sale. Aesthetically, it feels more like than a place with things for sale.


I agree with all your points, but to clarify, you don’t have to put in a credit card to browse and use the Apple app store. I don’t have my credit card but I download free apps all the time.


From my few, there aren’t too many good apps in general on Android, let alone paid apps. Ill go on a downloading spree with the free apps, but be really conservative on the paid.


Exactly ! When the quality is dubious, one is more careful.

I have been bitten by some early iOS downloads as well- $10 for a POS stock app. :-@


Re:Kindle App vs iBooks app.. Just because you download an app does not necessarily mean that you use it. I would bet a small sum that iBooks has sold an average of 2 books per iPad if that. If you already own Kindle books, chances are you own a Kindle and would use the app sparingly at best on the iPad due to poor battery life (10 hours vs 2 weeks) and poor readability compared to e-ink. Kindle is still the kind of e-books until further notice.


From the graphs, it appears these are data for May, 2010, not for all downloaded apps. Since my two myTouch 3G phones were bought last September, most apps were downloaded in the first month or two, with the exception being the (free) updates to what we have already installed.

And, btw, ALL of our apps are free apps.

Is it possible that only Apple only users only download only apps that only are not eventually deleted … only?


With more Android devices supposedly being sold in May, your cumulative logic would tilt the argument in favor of iOS even more.

Tim Stiffler-Dean

Interesting that Palm webOS has the second highest ratio of Free to Paid apps in their catalog. Whereas I feel like the Android catalog is filled with a bunch of stuff that wouldn’t really warrant re-downloads or recommendations, the Palm catalog has a strong base of free apps available that are of pretty decent quality (and aren’t all duplicates of each other).

Obviously, these graphs don’t tell the whole story of these app markets, but I’m glad to see another bit of information to get the full picture.

Lucian Armasu

I bet this doesn’t take into account the fact that you can only buy Android apps from only about 25% of the countries where the Android Market is available.

That should skew that percetange quite a bit.


It is the target market differences.

Techies have the passion to find out the best option for the cheapest price, preferably free, of course! But in the end nothing is really free and a lot of personal time is spent on trying out and eventually deleting stuff.

All of this gives the apparent high activity in Android marketplace, while iOS runs ahead with its ease of use and profits.

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