Google is closing the “app gap” in the smartphone market, at least when it comes to downloads. The company announced on Tuesday that Android users have downloaded some 10 billion apps to date on the Android Market, and that its monthly download rate has crossed the 1 billion mark.
As you can see in the chart above, those download numbers have been increasing at a brisk rate over the last 18 months or so as sales of Android devices have exploded around the world.
The numbers show that the Android ecosystem is healthy, but with any set of numbers, it’s easy to make of them what you will. For instance, Apple has been at a billion downloads per month for some time, but there are more Android devices in use now than there are iPhones.
That shows that Android users are downloading fewer apps per user than Apple’s iPhone customers, which suggests (to us) there are aspects of finding apps on Apple’s App Store or actually using them on Apple’s iPhones that are better than Google’s Android ecosystem.
At the same time, Android lags far, far behind in paid apps. In November, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster found that Apple’s App Store generated some twelve times more revenue than the Android Market. At that time, his research showed that 1.3% of Android downloads were paid apps, while 13.5% of iOS apps were paid.
Still, the law of numbers is inexorable. As Android gains more smartphone market share—currently at the expense of everyone but Apple—even that smaller percentage of paid apps will add up, giving more developers more reason to make more apps.
To encourage Android device owners to get used to the idea of paying for their apps, Google is offering a ten day promotion for ten cent (US$0.10) paid apps, starting with the following: Asphalt 6 HD, Color & Draw for Kids, Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro, Fieldrunners HD, Great Little War Game, Minecraft, Paper Camera, Sketchbook Mobile, Soundhound Infinity and SwiftKey X.
The company said that it will offer a new bunch of apps every day at the price during the course of the ten day promotion, which starts today. If you have an Android device, get ‘em while they’re hot and cheap.
We should also point out that these downloads don’t count the apps sold at Amazon’s Appstore for Android or the myriad of other services that offer Android apps. That means that the total worldwide download numbers for Android are higher than the subset represented by Google’s own Android Market, though Android Market certainly represents the lion’s share of that total.