Although Android is widespread in the mobile space, the operating system's application ecosystem has not reached its potential. Google needs to encourage greater numbers of developers to invest in delivering high-quality Android tablet apps quickly to avoid disappointing consumers with weak app experiences in the short term, according to Canalys' App Interrogator research.
"Quite simply, building high-quality app experiences for Android tablets has not been among many developers' top priorities to date," Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd said in a statement. "That there are over 375,000 apps in the Apple App Store that are designed with iPad users in mind, versus just a fraction of this—in the low tens of thousands—available through Google Play, underscores this point."
Of the top 50 paid and free iPad apps in Apple's U.S. App Store, based on aggregated daily rankings in the first half of 2013, close to a third (30 percent) were absent from Google Play, one of the major deficiencies in Google's Android application ecosystem, according to Canalys' research.
Slightly more than half (52 percent) of the apps had Android versions both available through Google Play and optimized (if only a little) for tablet use. An additional 18 percent of the top 50 paid apps available through iTunes were available, but not optimized for tablet users, offering no more than a smart phone app blown up to the size of a tablet screen.
The 52 percent of top apps available through Google Play and optimized for tablets also includes six titles that appear as top paid titles on iOS, but are only available as free, ad-supported versions on Android.
"While nominally free, set against a paid version of the app, ad-supported offerings typically deliver a poorer and often more limited user experience, sometimes taking a considerable toll on device battery life and often subjecting users to unskippable videos or other unpopular intrusions," Canalys analyst Daniel Matte said in a statement.
With recent media attention focused on the security flaws inherent in the widely fragmented base of Android operating systems, the report noted it will be important for Google to gain users' trust and convince them to enter banking details and sign up for billing plans so that developers will be encouraged to make paid apps and increase the revenue potential of the Play store and ecosystem for Google.
"Improved consumer willingness to spend will increase developers' monetization potential and options, and help to reduce their reliance on in-app ads, leading over time to an increase in app quality," Matte continued.
The availability of top apps and paid apps is expected to change as the growing base of Android devices continues to soar and Google brings improvements to the Play store, according to the report.
According to a report from IT research firm IDC that was published earlier this month, Android managed a slight increase in the second quarter of 2013, while Apple, despite beating Wall Street expectations for shipment volumes, saw its share in the worldwide smartphone operating system market decline year-over-year during the period. Android continued to maintain its leadership position, with strong contributions from Samsung and its flagship Galaxy S 4 smartphone.