App store smackdown: Apple's App Store worth billions; Android Market, not so much

Published: September 1, 2009

According to a recent AdMob figure, the Apple App Store is worth billions of dollars. It estimates sales at $2.4 billion per year and developer revenue of nearly $125 million a month. By contrast, AdMob’s Android Market numbers peg sales volume at $60 million annually, with revenue of $5 million per month for developers.

If you’re an Apple fan, you might be cheering. But Android users might think this is an unfair comparison. And you know what? I don’t blame them one bit.

A few things come to mind with this bit of data. First — and this is important to remember — the iPhone’s been around for a couple of years now. The open-source Android platform is still a nascent OS that only launched less than a year ago. Thus the App Store has a much larger customer base built in, at least for now. Long-term, however, the projections are looking good for Android.

The iPhone OS is obviously tied to one phone. It may be an extremely popular one (the latest news pegs the iPhone as the number 1 smartphone in the country), but it is just one handset. Okay, there’s the iPod Touch, but that’s still only 2 devices generating all those sales.

But the Android community is growing, maybe even showing signs of surging soon. We are on the brink of seeing more (quite buzzworthy) Android phones on the market, from Motorola, HTC and others. As the user community grows, so will sales. And when profits grow, development undoubtedly follows, which creates a bigger catalog of apps to sell.

I may be an iPhone user, but I’m a sucker for an underdog story. And with all the wacky news going on with Apple, I certainly wouldn’t mind if Android takes the hubris down a notch or two. I think Apple would do well with a shot of humility. But it’s not likely to happen overnight. In the mean time, the App Store’s huge success does explain a few other things.

Some people (ahem, Noah) think that the App Store is the property of Apple, and good or bad, the company can do whatever it wants with it. I actually disagree with that. When something is worth billions of dollars, with an enormous number of developers and customers tied to it, the store is no longer just a property. It is now an industry, and just like any other industry, it is subject to monitoring and regulation to ensure fairness and healthy competition.

If Apple doesn’t want to loosen its grip on the (baffling) App Store approval process or answer to federal inquiries on the matter, the best thing it can hope for is that Android does take the lead, as well as some of the attention.

Toward that end, the Android Network Award winners list has just been published to promote some of the awesome items in the Android Market. Hopefully, it’s one more step on the road to Android ratcheting up those numbers and causing a positive ripple effect in the whole industry. And this Apple fangirl actually can’t wait to see that happen.

[via PhoneArena]

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