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What is the Android Market?

2011 was a fantastic year for Google’s operating system, Android. Its smartphone market share has been growing rapidly. In terms of units sold, the iPhone still holds a commanding lead over individual Smartphone brands, with a 15% market share. However, consider the fact that the Android is not a phone but an operating system for a phone, and this operating system is being used by over a dozen companies representing 53% of the market.

The Android Market is Google’s software store developed for use by Android OS devices such as the smartphones and tablets being manufactured by electronics companies like Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson. “Market” competes directly with Apple’s App Store, preinstalled on most Android devices and allows users to browse and download mobile apps published by third-party developers.

Apple leads Android in the apps market, with the Apple Store having 18 billion downloads. However, Android is certainly catching up, having reached the 10 billion downloads mark with a growth rate of 1 billion downloads per month. At this pace, it will be only  a matter of time before the Android Marketplace overtakes the Apple Store.

However, in one very important area, the Apple Store still beats the Android Market significantly: revenue. Despite its huge share in terms of downloads, Android does not earn for its App developers as much as Apple does. App developers still choose iOS first for launching any app because they see more profit potential:  Apple’s App Store has earned about $4.9 billion in gross revenue for paid apps, while the Android Market is estimated to have earned just $330 million.

This is because there are far more free apps on an Android than on an iPhone or iPad. About 14% of Apple’s app downloads are paid ones, compared to only 1% for Android.  Much like most of its investments, such as Youtube and Google Docs, Google is still trying to figure out how to develop its revenue model for Android.

From the perspective of small businesses however, these statistics give a pretty clear picture of what to expect when considering developing an App to support your business. If an SME wants to generate revenue from App downloads, then they should consider developing something for Apple’s App Store. However, if the objective is to reach a wider market, not for revenue, but to promote or compliment a website and online business, then the way to go is Android Market.

Have you considered developing an app to complement your business?

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