While Google’s Android Marketplace in the past often elicited giggles and guffaws when compared to Apple’s App Store, the Android app alternative needs to be taken more seriously. The Android Marketplace will catch up with Apple’s 350,000 iOS applications in July.
“Approximately five months from now Google’s Android Market will be the largest store in terms of number of applications followed by the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad,” market research firm Distimo announced Thursday. The researchers based their assumption on the past three months of app store activity and warned volume “could easily accelerate or slow down.”
The Android Market already leads the Apple iOS App Store in free applications, 134,342 apps versus 121,845. The App Store for the iPad held 75,755 apps by March, 30 percent of which are free. Interestingly, the average price for paid applications has risen by more than $1, according to the researchers. They found the average paid iPad app now costs $5.36 – up from $4.34 when the app store first opened.
That increased iPad price could be tied to the falling prominence of iPad gaming apps. According to Distimo, the iPad App Store had 16,712 book apps versus 13,861 games. Could this because more iPad owners are using the tablet for reading? Maybe. Nearly 40 percent of iPad owners don’t use the device for reading and most use their computer for reading e-books, according to forecaster Simba.
The strength of Windows Phone 7 is becoming clearer. Although the Windows 7 Marketplace has been available for less than a year, it’s expected to overwhelm both the BlackBerry App World and the Nokia Ovi Store. Nokia recently ditched its Symbian smartphone operating system for Windows Phone. BlackBerry’s tablet has also been criticized for a lack of applications.
Distimo did not research the influence of Amazon’s “App Store”, which caters to Android users. The store, unveiled in March, includes many apps already available at Google’s Android Marketplace.