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App attrition on Android Market twice as high vs. App Store

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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 Meanwhile, of the 500,000 apps that have appeared on Apple’s App Store, 80,000 or about 16 percent, have been unpublished at some point.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.

15 Responses to “App attrition on Android Market twice as high vs. App Store”

  1. Horace Lim

    425,000 iPhone and 200,000 Android apps… wow!
    Do you know how many RIM Blackberry & Playpad, Microsoft Windows Phone and WebOS available?

  2. SKolb

    App count is the most useless marker anyone could ever use to compare mobile platforms. When you boil it all down you are left with a very very small pool of apps that actually matter. Go to either app store and search for a specific task/item and you are presented with 100s of results; some are good most are poor. Both app stores are filled with a lot of garbage apps; apple just happens to have the most junk at the current time…

  3. dirkdiggler

    Just as well that apps are a transitory fad while we move to HTML5. Within a year there will be browsers on devices that are able to harness HTML5 functionality fully. We can then replace apps with bookmarks.

  4. jbelkin

    Android tablets have been out a year and there are still only about 100 apps specifically designed for an android tablet – the reason, no market for an unsubsidized android os device. Sure, company employees and a few thousand DIYers will buy one but no android tablet will ever even sell a million units over its lifetime. As noted by even android users and by the sell through rate, android smartphone users mostly use it because it was the free or cheapest smartphone choice but outside of the apps loaded by the telco are barely iterested in adding more apps. Android has 40% of the total smartphone marketshare but 8% of the app market.

    That’s also why most original iphone apps ported over to android are not as functional, don’t look as nice nor get updated as often (if ever).

    Android is a fine free OS for telcos to skin – it’s fun for DIYers and programmers because you can do anything you want it to do – but for end users, it’s not a professional OS and it shows, so 90% of android users simply are handed the OS as part of a free or $.01 cellphone. It’s ‘good enough’ – certainly better than Symbian or RIM. Also, their X brand Verizon android phone looks and operates totally from their friend’s Z brand Sprint one so Android is Symbian 2011 – by name only as each phone operates it own OS, its own skin, and UI with an upgrade schedule set by the telco from weeks to whenever (if ever).

    IOS is an ecosystem. Android is Google’s wrapper for Google search & mobile adsense – nothing more. The rest is up to the telco and you. If you’re savvy, you do what you like but if you’re a casual user? All you get is a phone with google search & mobile adsense, the rest is up to your telco to decide what you get. That’s why IOS is never discounted to $.01 after 3 weeks. And the iCloud will further separate the professional IOS from the kit car Android.

    But to each his own, just don’t get confused between the two.

    BTw, 99.9% of iphone apps works on the ipad and ipod touch but ipads have their own redesigned apps (not just scaled up apps) – 90,000 and growing versus the android market of 100. Android apps dont even work across the board from the same handset manufacturer.

      • Anthony

        Doesn’t calling people sheep mean they follow what’s popular? Isn’t Android the most popular OS at the moment? Fandroid eh? Most of the facts are true here, developers support iOS more than the Android Market because they can make more money from it. This isn’t changing anytime soon. Oracle is about to win in court against Google and get a percentage of their ad revenue. That means even less for developers. Android’s market share has already plateaued, what do you honestly thing is gonna happen if the iPhone 5 comes out on all 4 carriers in September? I guess it’s just easier to call people isheep or fanboys though so whatever.

      • Spellman

        Wondering if you can find a single flaw in jbelkin’s well-reasoned analysis or just had to make a knee-kerk anti-Apple comment?

    • Rilbii

      do you really think by spending enormous amounts of time on silly posts like that you will change anybody’s mind? or stop Android from taking over tablet marketshare just like they did phones?

  5. Lucian Armasu

    Since iPad and iPhone apps are now put together under “iOS” apps, the “iOS” numbers have started rising again and got a big boost because of the iPad. Android hasn’t experienced that with tablets yet, but it will starting this fall when more price competitive tablets arrive, and also quad core tablets.

    • Prof. Peabody

      Even if there was a bulge when Android tablets start selling more (if they ever do), That doesn’t address the actual topic of the article which is attrition. Android market is IMO more of a hobby space and many of the apps are just tech demos or the answer to an “I wonder if I can do this?” question in the developer’s mind.

      The high attrition says to me that a lot of Android developers have stopped supporting their work either because they weren’t that committed in the first place, or because the low level of sales and interest made it obvious they were essentially wasting their time.

  6. On my Android phone, an LG Optiums, I seem to have limited space for apps. I have extra storage, but apparently not all Android apps have been coded so they can be moved to the MicroSD card.

    For me, this means I put a limited number of Apps on my phone. Some gotta go.

    That’s my experience with Andorid.