Android Apps Mostly Free, iPhone Apps Mostly Paid

Roughly 70 percent of the 250,000 apps in Apple's App Store are paid apps. Conversely, 64 percent of the 95,000 Android apps in Google's Android Market are free, Royal Pingdom said.

Developers on the fence about whether to write mobile applications for Apple's iPhone or smartphones based on Google's Android operating system could find themselves jumping to Apple's side if their chief quest is making money.

Royal Pingdom crunched some numbers Aug. 27 and found that about 70 percent of the 250,000 apps in Apple's App Store are paid apps. Conversely, 64 percent of the 95,000 apps in the Android Market are free. This chart paints the picture.

Why the discrepancy when there are more Android developers than iPhone developers?

Pingdom speculated that fewer Android programmers are trying to sell apps compared with iPhone developers. Perhaps.

Pingdom also postulated that the lack of an approval process for the Android Market makes it more likely for hobbyist apps on Android. Maybe.

Or perhaps Android lures developers from the open-source and Linux world, where apps are commonly made available for free.

eWEEK believes the chief reason is that Google's payment system for the Android Market is woefully underdeveloped.

While consumers may buy apps from Apple's App Store in 95 countries, users may only purchase applications for their Android smartphones from the Android Market in 13 countries. Worse, developers from only nine countries are allowed to sell apps on Android Market.

Accordingly, Pingdom said developers in other countries may be likely to release applications for free instead of trying to earn some money from selling software at a modest price.

"Many developers are uncertain if Android is a lucrative enough market, although there have been voices raised to the contrary recently," Pingdom wrote.

"The iPhone (and iOS), on the other hand, is an established platform with a number of high-profile success stories and may therefore to a greater degree be attracting developers wanting to make a profit."

One of the Android success stories Pingdom alluded to comes from developer Arron La, who earned $80,000 from his Advanced Task Manager app in the Android Market from 2009 to 2010.

"Android is a viable revenue stream," La wrote Aug. 20. "Although $80,000 total isn't a lot compared to some of the overnight millionaire stories you hear about on the iPhone App Store (not sure if this is before or after Apple's cut), you are able to generate good returns."