Study: Android App Peddlers Struggle to Close the Deal

Google’s Android Market may be rapidly catching up to Apple’s App Store in terms of sheer quantity, but app sales still vary greatly between the two, according to an analysis released on Friday by Distimo.

The numbers give Apple a clear advantage in sales of applications. The report found that in March and April of this year, six paid iPhone applications generated 500,000-plus downloads in the United States.

For Google’s Android Marketplace, only two apps have gotten over the 500,000 benchmark, and that is including worldwide sales.

On the game side, five games in the Android shop had over 250,000 total downloads worldwide, compared to 10 iPhone games with more than 250,000 just in the United States in the past two months alone.

In addition, the “refresh” rate of Apple’s apps is higher, meaning that customers are more likely to return to Apple’s app store to update or renew their purchases.

Why Don’t Android Apps Sell?

The first reason could simply be volume — Distimo puts Apple at having 211,369 paid apps available, compared to Google’s 71,801.

Another reason could be the difference in data collecting and payment methods between the two sites. To download anything from the Apple App Store, customers must have an iTunes account. In order to do that, they almost always enter their means of payment, even if an app is free.

Google does not require any payment information if the app is free, so complimentary downloads are a click away.

Conversely, payment information that is already saved and stored in an iTunes account can lead to an easy sale to busy buyers. Consumers who are casually browsing in the Apple App Store or see an ad for a paid application might be more willing to shell out US$1.99 with a simple click, whereas the time it takes to enter credit card info into the Android Market might deter an impulse buy.

“We hear many complaints from both consumers and developers that Google Checkout is currently the only option to pay for applications for many customers,” Remco van den Elzen, cofounder of Distimo, told LinuxInsider.

To combat the issue, Google has introduced carrier billing to select providers, meaning that users or certain types of mobile devices that use Android apps could pay through those carriers.

Upping Sales

Application developers and marketers constantly struggle with the question of how to approach paid vs. free apps in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“Most developers simply do not have the marketing budget to make a big splash. They rely on app store placement and word of mouth,” Bill Morelli, director of the mobile technologies group at IMS Research, told LinuxInsider.

A company like Apple, then, has a clear advantage in having access to professional marketing teams and the star-power word of mouth the Cupertino-based company carries.

Google, clearly a tech giant itself, has access to these resources as well, but it appears the company hasn’t pushed the Android market quite as heavily as Apple.

“While Google is the entity making the big push behind Android, the goal for them is just to get more eyeballs looking at Google advertising. The app store is completely tangential to that. As a result, Google has left much of the marketing of the platform to its partners,” said Morelli.

“The bigger question is if Google is going to step up and play a more prominent role to market the Android platform and the Android app store. Personally, I do not expect to see any change in the near term,” Morelli added.

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