updated 09:45 am EST, Wed December 21, 2011
Distimo shows Android still not a source of cash
The end of 2011 still has the iOS App Store much more profitable than Android Market, Distimo found in its year-end wrap-up. Over the course of 2011, the iPhone side of the App Store made four times the revenue of the entire Android Market, while the iPad side made twice as much. The discrepancy came even as Android became tops in device share and had nearly 350,000 active apps, based on its own figures.
As in the past, the gap was explained by an Android culture that resisted most attempts to charge for developers' work. Android Market now had the largest number of downloads for free apps after having overtaken the App Store to get that title in June. While freemium apps that lean on in-app purchases were up to 48 percent of App Store revenue by the end of the year, that figure was up to 65 percent on Android, showing that relatively few of its developers assumed they would make money with an up front price.
Other platforms were still distant, although some grew faster than others. Amazon's Appstore grew to about 50,000 apps, while the Windows Phone Marketplace quadrupled its size to 35,269 apps. Distimo didn't compare their revenue.
Microsoft's shop was becoming a relative haven for games. While much smaller than Android or iOS, the Xbox connection was giving it a disproportionately large number of games relative to Amazon, BlackBerry App World, and Nokia's since-renamed Ovi Store.
The study went further in-depth on the App Store to show that Apple's product release cycles directly affected its download growth. For both the iPad and the iPhone, downloads among the top apps usually took a noticeable drop in the month just before a release as customers held off, promptly surging once the new hardware was available.
Apple was being partly helped by China. Between the US and China, the Asian state climbed from just 18 percent of all downloads to 30 percent. Fewer were likely to pay, but they also didn't have the option of paying in their own currency until very late in the year.