Android Market surpasses 400,000 apps, sees strong development

by Phil Hornshaw

The Android Market is slowly improving its ability to sell developers’ apps and make them easy to find, with the app store for Google’s mobile platform surpassing 400,000 available apps.

That’s double the number of apps available to Android device owners just eight months ago, GigaOM reports, and an indicator that developers are finding value in the platform and the 700,000 Android devices Google says it’s activating every day, as well as the consumers who come with them.

The 400,000 milestone is a big one for the Android Market for consumers, since having a lot of apps is one of the big selling points of Apple’s iOS platform. The iTunes App Store still outpaces Android, having hit 400,000 back in 2011, but Android is fast making up the pace and has also surpassed its rival in terms of the number of downloads it has logged: it just broke 10 billion and is clocking 1 billion downloads per month on average. The iTunes App Store hit 10 billion at the beginning of 2011, but Android is expected to have had more downloads throughout last year.

Increasing visiblilty

Perhaps more important than the number of apps in the Android Market, however, is that the store is doing a better job of promoting them. A big problem for many developers in the Android Market has been app discovery, and Google stepped up its efforts to feature more apps in front-page recommendation sections last year. Apple’s front page “What’s Hot” and “New and Noteworthy” lists are coveted spots among developers, as are the top download charts, because they garner huge amounts of attention from users and lead to lots of downloads.

According to a story from TechCrunch, Google’s promoted spots are seeing similar gains for developers lucky enough to land them. One fitness app, RunKeeper, released news that it saw a 637-percent spike in downloads since November after being featured in the Market’s Health and Fitness section for only a few days. Another featured app, LightBox, saw 500,000 downloads during the holidays after it received some spotlight from Google, kicking its total downloads up to 1.5 million.

Other apps, such as Any.DO, Evernote and Point Inside Shopping & Travel, have noted significant jumps in their downloads after receiving feature treatment, TechCrunch points out. An app still has to be good to get featured, Google says – it has editors searching through apps to find good ones to add to the featured categories – but this is at least an indicator for developers that there are ways to make money in the Android Market. The more the Market improves to help developers find people who want to download their apps, the more those developers will start throwing their efforts behind Google’s platform (instead of just Apple’s). And of course, that means more great apps for everyone.