As every developer knows, there’s money to be made in making apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. But apps for Android devices are a different story: They often take more time to make, and pay less. Though there are now more Android devices than iPhones and iPads, the revenue from iOS apps is several times greater.
Now there’s some hope for Android app developers: Amazon appears to be closer to getting Android-device users to pay up. Already, about 65 percent of apps in the Amazon Appstore are paid, as compared with 32 percent on Google’s Android Market. More important, as a new study from research company Distimo reports, consumers may be much more willing to actually buy those paid apps from Amazon than from Google’s store.
According to Distimo’s analysis, in January, 13,432 apps appeared in both stores. Distimo found 110 apps that generated $200 or more in revenue each day in at least one of them. So that gives us a fairly select group of applications that earned meaningful revenue and could be compared across the two marketplaces.
Of that group, 42 — more than a third — earned more in Amazon’s store. In total, 28% of the revenue for those 110 top apps came via Amazon.
What’s impressive about this number is that the Kindle Fires and other devices accessing Amazon’s store make up only a small proportion of the Android devices out there. According to ComScore, 97.9 million Americans owned smart phones at the end of December. Of those, 47.3 percent used Android. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co. expected Amazon to ship about five million Kindle Fires during the holiday quarter.
So the math leaves us with about 46 million Android phones, and 5 million Kindle Fires. Let’s put the bottom line number in context:
The Kindle Fire accounts for fewer than 10 percent of the Android devices in use, but for top apps generates 28 percent of the revenue.
There are a few small caveats here: ComScore’s numbers don’t include tablets; including those would make total number of Android devices would be greater. The Amazon Kindle number could be a bit higher with January sales. Also, the Amazon Appstore is accessible for some AT&T phone users. The number of non-Kindle buyers there, however, is likely low and the Kindle Fire is certainly responsible for the big majority of Amazon app downloads. Overall, the picture the numbers paint is clear.
“Since the Amazon Appstore is available on only a limited number of devices compared to the Google Android Market, it shows the potential of the Amazon Appstore for developers,” Distimo said in its report. That’s an understated way of saying that for top developers the Amazon store is punching well over its weight in delivering paying users.
Amazon may have an edge over Google in selling paid apps for several reasons. Consumers are trained to come to Amazon.com to shop. They also have their credit cards embedded right into the site, making app purchases as easy as a tap; with Android Market, payment can be more time-consuming and complicated.
Also worth thinking about is exactly what kinds of apps will develop a following on the Kindle Fire. The top ten paid apps in the Amazon store and eight of the top free apps (the exceptions are Netflix app and a kids’ drawing program) are games. The preponderance of game titles is evident in the Android Marketplace as well, but it’s even more pronounced here.
A quick glance further down Amazon’s current top paid apps list underlines the pattern — games make up the overwhelming majority of the top 50. So the developers benefitting most from the Amazon app downloads now are likely to be game creators, and the next question may be figuring out if the platform can work as well for other software.