Android Market nearing 6 billion downloads, according to study

by Phil Hornshaw

The Android Market, Google’s store for selling apps for its Android mobile platform, is closing-in on 6 billion downloads, a big milestone on its march to overtake Apple’s top-selling iTunes App Store.

Last week, a research report from market analysis firm Ovum claimed that the Android Market was on-pace to surpass Apple and iTunes in downloads for the first time. That’s largely because Android devices are ubiquitous throughout the world, with around 500,000 new devices being activated every day. With all those new smartphones and tablets, users need apps to go with them.

A new document released by mobile analyst firm Research2Guidance pegs the Android Market as surpassing 6 billion downloads in mid-September, and takes a closer look at what users are downloading in Google’s store. According to a story form TechCrunch, the firm is finding that it’s not games in the Android Market that are generating the highest revenue, but weather apps.

Traditionally, games dominate app stores, and in the Android Market about a quarter of all downloads are games, Research2Guidance found. But in terms of revenue for paid apps (the store is still dominated by free, ad-supported apps and “freemium” apps that are free to download but include in-app purchases), fierce competition among games has meant that individual apps are making less. So many games are competing for attention that the piece of the pie for each is smaller.

However, In the weather category, there are fewer apps to cancel each other out. Weather apps are the “everyone should have” kind of applications that all smartphone users download. By the same token, users are generally not interested in checking out yet another weather app once they have one, so developers may not necessarily really want to develop them, as TechCrunch points out. That keeps the category from expanding too much.

For developers looking for a good way to make money out of the Android Market, Research2 Guidance suggests making business tool apps. Users seem to feel better about paying for apps that can help with business, and the category receives a lot less attention – and competition – than most.

Research2Guidance also found that the average paid Android app across all categories had generated $2,500 since it was published. Looking just at August, the revenue that each category in the Android Market drew varied pretty wildly, from just $300 in the month all the way up to $21,000.

As for total downloads, Research2Guidance says more than 1,500 new publishers are joining the Android push each week, and the store increased by 20,000 apps during the month of August. That was more than the number of apps added to Apple’s store, which stood at 15,000 for the month, the firm reports.

Android’s market might be growing faster, but Apple’s store is still much bigger. For some context, remember that the iTunes App Store hit 10 billion downloads back in January, while Google is approaching 6 billion, and iTunes carries around 600,000 apps, while the Android Market had 277,252 at the start of September.