According to a report coming from Ovum analyst Nick Dillion, Android may surpass iOS in total application downloads this year. Android could experience as much as 8.1 billion downloads in 2011, in comparison to last year's 1.4 billion, and 6 billion applications will likely be downloaded from the App Store, up from 2.7 billion in 2010, says Dillon.

This should hardly come as a surprise, though, as both platforms have faced explosive growth and interest this year; the coming of the mobile application age has been disseminated by analyst firms around the world; and Android users have flexibility in how they want their apps delivered – Amazon Appstore, GetJar and SlideME, to name a few. The Ovum report states that Apple's single App Store “can't compete with such diversity, but still leads in the value of its apps.” (Of course, Ovum's report likely doesn't take Cydia into consideration, which could easily put the two on a level playing field.)

What is interesting, however, is how the two platforms' application stores stack up in profitability. Ovum predicts that in 2016, all of the Android application stores combined will generate a revenue of $1.5 billion, while Apple's App Store alone will create 2.86 billion. This is based on the prediction that Android stores will see roughly 21.8 billion total downloads, compared to the 11.6 billion downloads from the App Store. That means with nearly half the downloads, the App Store will predictably receive twice the revenue. Impressive … at least for Apple.

So what's going on with Google's platform and app revenue? Piracy, for one. Data from a recent survey performed by Yankee Group of 75 developers reveals some interesting deets on Android and it's growing problem with piracy:

  • Piracy is a problem for Android and Google isn’t helping. Among Android developers:
    • 27 percent see piracy as a huge problem
    • 26 percent see it as somewhat of a problem
    • 53 percent say Google is too lax in its Android Market policies
  • Three-quarters of Android developers say it’s easy to copy and republish an Android app
    • Almost half say that pirating an Android app is “very easy.”
  • Piracy hurts developers’ top and bottom lines
    • About a third of developers say piracy has cost them in excess of $10,000 in revenue
    • 32 percent say it increases their support costs
    • 25 percent say they see increased server costs due to heavy loads imposed by pirated copies

Piracy was inevitable on Android, as it is with almost all digital media. In contrast with Apple's "walled garden," Android Market policies are very loose. Nearly anything can be uploaded to the Market and downloaded by users. The problem is, since developers are pulling in less revenue due to pirated apps and operating costs are increasing, so are the prices of applications. Seeing as Android users are less likely to purchase apps in the first place, an increase in price will likely make things worse for devs. If this perpetual standoff doesn't stop soon, developers will soon pack up shop and head to another platform.

Not only is piracy bad for developers, it's bad for Android users, too. The open ability to pirate applications makes things fairly easy for hackers to download an app, repackage it and upload it to third-party stores (and websites that host pirated apps) with malware. This severe vulnerability leads to Trojans, "Update Attacks" and "malvertizing."

Carl Howe of Yankee Group states, "Android apps are living in the Wild West without a sheriff,” and, “With five other major mobile OSs competing for consumer dollars, Google can’t afford to simply let pirates kill app developers’ businesses. They need to foster some law and order or developers will flee to other platforms and Android will lose customers.”

Google has done very little to combat this surging beast. They did introduce a licensing server last year, in which an installed application with the security feature would ping Google's servers and check for a valid license. Developers could either block an illegitimate application altogether or direct the users to a “lite” version of their app where they may be prompted to purchase the full version. Of course, it didn't take long for prying hackers to work their way around the license check. And Google has been pretty good about quickly removing malware from Android Market as of late, but with so many third-party stores out available, the issue could easily blow up in their face, virtually overnight.

Howe is right, Google needs to step up and take charge. The huge selection of applications, games, widgets and more within the Android Market is one of their largest selling points. Letting that deteriorate with little to no standards, piracy and malware could potentially force buyers and developers to look elsewhere and jump ship to other platforms.

Image via Android and Me

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54 Reactions to this post

"Is Google too lax when it comes to the Android Market?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Mohammed Mahmoud
Mohammed Mahmoud maybe
Melissa Wynemia Kritzell
Melissa Wynemia Kritzell no!
Kip Count
Kip Count Apple app store is too sterile. No adventure.
Tony Abiama
Tony Abiama I'm still getting used to the new Android Market. I think I like the old one better.
Suryo Lee
Suryo Lee Android Rock!!!
Ash Hus
Ash Hus Apple rock but only I hate r iTunes I like drag n drop
Kip Count
Kip Count I like their Market. Change not.
Joy ShanteNicole
Joy ShanteNicole I like Sprint Apps especially cause this is my firts android phone. Never thought about the freedom of unrestriction. Plus, i like how the users themselves spread the word of the good and bad apps More games apps needed i agree.
Donovan Rashad Johnson
Donovan Rashad Johnson Free is the way to be
Shawn Towle
Shawn Towle They are not too lax, apple is just too strict.
Jose Pablo Islas
Jose Pablo Islas No, I think its great as is
David Hilgendorf
David Hilgendorf No Google is great with android market. For those of us with the new market don't have to see or scroll thru the crappy spam apps anymore.... yay
Steven Quintal
Steven Quintal Laxx? Lol
Erman Guido
Erman Guido Go green!! lol
Joel Gomez
Joel Gomez I paid a couple of apps that were pulled out of the market. I want my money back!
Rodger Samiie Myers
Rodger Samiie Myers problem is with android ANYONE can put something...and mostly its defective apps by amateur programmers
Mike Dougall
Mike Dougall Nope Google all day
Scott Bitters
Scott Bitters Yes
Antonio Jimenez
Antonio Jimenez Yes There Apps Suck Compared To iphone & gaming.but oh well I still like android
Mike Jaros
Mike Jaros No way
Broderick Kelley Lockett
Broderick Kelley Lockett Too lax? Is there such a thing?
Luis Valentin-Zeno
Luis Valentin-Zeno Android Market is Fine just the way its.. Any App restrictions and its going to get some negative Feedback
Anonymous No
Majosie Wynn
Majosie Wynn Android is what I like. Freedom for developers. The bad apps get weeded out by themselves. People spread the word on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Keep at it Google!
Jon Takach
Jon Takach Android <3
Dave Yaeck
Dave Yaeck I think that they could get more aggressive with Tablet Apps.
Radney Aaron Alquiza
Radney Aaron Alquiza need more good games.
James Ortiz
James Ortiz Nope android rocks
James Vincent
James Vincent I see no Asian porn apps... and I've been looking ;)
Anthony V Cannata
Anthony V Cannata Android Rockz!
Katherine Rich
Katherine Rich I don't think so. I like how it's totally unrestricted.
Anthony Tyson
Anthony Tyson Apps on android blow. I miss iPhone quality apps but not iOS
Anthony Douglas
Anthony Douglas Sorry I went on a rant...my apologies....had some crown n coke ROFL
Anthony Douglas
Anthony Douglas There is a lot of BS apps but I hate it when carriers restrict what you can download and what you can not unless you root your device. I think it's Sprint now that lets you download just about everything the market has to offer
Israel Leiva
Israel Leiva Maybe. Too many Asian Porn apps.
Mike West
Mike West The fact that you don't get censored for mentioning Apple in the reviews is good enough. If you mention that an app may or may not be better on Android, you won't get your review published in the Apple appstore.
Dwayne Demaurivert
Dwayne Demaurivert Yes (:
Mark Fisher Jr.
Mark Fisher Jr. Google is pretty good with android
Pierce G Hohenstein
Pierce G Hohenstein Too strict
Dayan Inclán
Dayan Inclán Heck, No. Digg'n on Google.
Leeming Wong
Leeming Wong Yeah, wish they would put more resources to it
Jeremy Gross
Jeremy Gross no
Tony Godswatching Overme
Tony Godswatching Overme We're Cooool
Ben Walker
Ben Walker Google, lax bro for life
Ryan DeClue
Ryan DeClue Noah O'Brien apparently works for Apple
Memo Mrtr
Memo Mrtr No , google rocks
Lorne Shaggy Sloan
Lorne Shaggy Sloan No, otherwise they would be like Apple. Ugh..
Noah OBrien
Noah OBrien YES!!!! the apps suck
Eddie Velasquez
Eddie Velasquez Nope its great
Ayoub Hage
Ayoub Hage Android rocks :)
Blake Allan Whitson
Blake Allan Whitson Yep it's good
Mark Shryock
Mark Shryock double no
John Cruz
John Cruz No google is good
ShehrYar Asghar
ShehrYar Asghar no

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