App Store Monitoring Q1 2010: Competitors are growing faster than Apple

At the end of 2009 Apple dominated the market for smartphone applications with a 77% market share of all downloads and the highest number of applications. The competition level within the Apple App Store was such that developers began searching for alternative development and distribution platforms. The tendency to publish on multiple and alternative platforms has gained momentum in the first quarter of 2010.

Growth Rates of Apps per platform during Q1 2010
Figure 1: Selected App Store Growth Rates
Source: research2guidance

Apple maintains a strong lead. In the first quarter of 2010 50,000 new apps were added to the store. That amounts to an impressive 550 new apps per day! The high frequency makes discoverability and differentiation of individual apps difficult, and with the long tail getting longer every day a multi-platform strategy is becoming more and more interesting for developers.

Android also saw considerable growth, in fact even though the increase in the number of apps in the store was only half that of Apple’s, the rate of growth on the Android store was an amazing 100%+ in the first quarter of 2010. At the end of 2009 there were 20,000 apps available in the Android Store, a number which has now more than doubled. Developers clearly see the potential of this platform, as more and more smartphone devices are being shipped with an Android operating system. Whereas at the end of 2009 we counted only 6 devices with Android operating systems, now just three months later more than 50 are commercially available. The rapid growth in the variety of devices will also mean that developers will face growing complexity in the optimization of applications to allow for usability on all devices.

BlackBerry claims that it concentrates on quality, not quantity. Also they are number two in the smartphone market. Their app store has not managed to attract as many apps as the Apple or Android stores which sell less smartphone devices, nevertheless they managed to increase their app numbers by almost 50% in only three months while maintaining their higher pricing level.

Symbian and mainly the Ovi Store are reporting high growth numbers in apps but still on a low level. As the number one smartphone platform one would expect much more interest from the developer community, but the fire has not yet ignited.

Windows Mobile seems to be in stagnation. Developers are waiting for Windows Mobile 7. Maybe that will help it to finally break through.

Palm had a very good start with developers loving the store, and the number of apps in their catalog doubling over the last few months. However, we see that the attractiveness and growth rate of Palm app downloads will slow down, as most of the new apps were developed in the last year, to be published in Q1 2010, when news was very positive about the new “iPhone Killer”. Now, with dramatically bad sales figures of the Palm Pre and the sale of Palm to HP, it is not clear how developers will react.. We are likely to see a deceleration in the growth in app numbers in Q2 2010.

Bada by Samsung has gained a lot of press over the last quarter. It offers a similar concept as Apple but not only for smartphones as we define them now. Until now Samsung was not a significant player in the app store market; however their feature phones have a significant market share in North America and Western Europe. According to Samsung’s announcements they expect to sell 50-100 million new smartphones this year. That is definitely a platform to watch out for in 2010.

Independent app stores seem to be much slower. For example, the giant GetJar just managed to collect 1,500 new apps,only 2% of its previous app numbers, whereas Mobango had 65% growth. Most MNO stores are really slow. It looks like people are keener on their preinstalled app stores, and do not bother to shop around.

Please note the latest updates in our App Store Comparison report, and respective PowerPoints slides, comprising the most recent data, including app store average prices, number of apps, devices and available countries as of April 2010.

This post currently has 4 responses.

  1. omichael says:

    Symbian, though arguably almost as good as Android in openness and robustness as well as dev tools, suffers from a lack of mobile devices carried by major cell carriers. As such, the device penetration is low and therefore so is the acceptance for developers to write bread and butter apps, much less free ones. What devices are out there are some of the best of breed, but without being subsidized by a major carrier or two, they will remain too expensive for the masses. Once again, its not the best, but the most popular that wins out.

  2. Lynne says:

    Yes, but… in the end, it’s all about sales and Apple has that locked up for now. While I will agree that Android app dev is where the growth is right now, it will take a while before that revenue engine starts overtaking Apple. Meanwhile, there’s the iPad and who knows what else Steve J has up his sleeve…

  3. sikunj says:

    The information may be accurate but should we not consider the magic of large numbers? Apple may be slower but that is because of the theory of large numbers.

  4. Jess Taylor says:

    Its easy to say other platforms are growing faster when you basically start from no apps or at ground zero. Lets put some perspective on that number numerically Apple added more apps than all the other platforms combined and please correct me if I am wrong but also added a new OS (actually 2 updates in the 1st qtr) and a new device the iPad. Its always been amusing to see the also rans such as the BlackBerry and Android making these we are growing faster claims. I ask one question can they match the speed and the user experience of the iPhone that’s all. Its the reason we buy devices and the cool factor certainly doesn’t hurt Apple but lets lay it out on the table if there was any competitor that had the hardware, software, distribution channels that apple does they would be on the cover of every magazine and the talk of every blog. Customers would be clamoring for them and frankly can you cite one example of a competitor that had lines at every retailer carrying its products world wide for the release of any one device? We build to be profitable and every app cant be profitable but every app should be visible and the lack of that visibility is on the app developers and their marketing efforts.
    Not what you want to hear but as a developer its our reality!

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