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While Google’s Android Market (s GOOG) is growing fast, it has an attrition rate that is twice as high as Apple’s App Store (s AAPL). That explains why, contrary to previous reports, Android Market is not on pace to overtake Apple’s App Store in overall apps any time soon.
The analysis comes by way of app discovery service Appsfire, which found that of the 300,000 apps that have been published overall on Android Market, 95,000 or about 32 percent, have been pulled over time. Meanwhile, of the 500,000 apps that have appeared on Apple’s App Store, 80,000 or about 16 percent, have been unpublished at some point.
This undercuts previous research from Distimo and research2guidance, which counted many more apps for Android Market and predicted that it was on pace to eclipse Apple’s App Store later this year. Appsfire said the attrition rate was likely not factored into previous counts and needs to be included if you want an accurate picture of the app stores.
Indeed, while some had said Apple was close to half a million apps, it reported at its WWDC conference this week that it has 425,000 apps available. And Google recently shared at its developer conference last month that it has 200,000 apps available in Android Market, meaning it’s unlikely it will overtake Apple any time soon.
So why are apps less likely to stick around in Android Market? Appsfire said it’s likely because the apps there are more experimental and may be designed to give developers more experience, making them easier to pull. Android Market’s lower barrier to entry, along with tools like App Inventor, also invite more of these apps compared to the App Store, which has stricter guidelines, a review process and a $100 development fee.
Appsfire also hypothesizes that app developers may be pulling their apps more quickly because they encounter more trouble monetizing them or find it’s not worth it to maintain them. Or they unpublish apps as they change course in their strategy. Now there are more Android apps out there than just the ones found in Android Market. With the rise of third-party app stores, there are some apps that don’t appear in Android Market though most, I wager, end up there.
But the larger story is that we need to be look more at the overall state of these apps stores and consider that they are still different in their approaches. And they have different appeal with developers and consumers. As I wrote about earlier, Android is great for cutting-edge apps while iOS is better for making money. Trying to compare the specific number of apps they have doesn’t paint a complete picture of their health and may not be as relevant when you’re comparing such large numbers.
What matters for consumers is having good apps and we’re seeing that Android is catching up in both quantity and quality and has the edge in some areas of niche apps. And for developers, they may have a lot of objectives that include making money but may also include other things. As Android matures and becomes a better place to money, the comparisons may be more relevant. But right now, it’s still early and both stores are thriving.