Android Rising: O'Reilly Android Apps Gaining Ground on iPhone

O’Reilly sells apps in both the iPhone App Store and the Android Market. Most apps (for now) are just app presentations of our ebooks, built using ereader apps popular on each platform (Stanza on iPhone, Aldiko on Android).

That means many of our apps are essentially the same on each platform, so any difference in sales can be at somewhat correlated to the relative market share of each device/market. It should be no surprise that we sell more apps on the iPhone than in the Android market.

But what was surprising about a recent look at the data was just how quickly the Android sales are growing relative to iPhone. The last time I checked about two months ago, Android apps were tracking at about 10% of iPhone sales for the same title. But a look at the past two weeks of sales across 200 apps available on both platforms shows a striking uptick in Android share, to 22%:

I was an early skeptic of Android, clouded by how much I love my iPhone. But I’ve since come around, and though I still believe iPhone will retain its top spot among smartphones, the market and platform from all of those Android devices put together will be a very big story in 2010 (especially if Google makes some sorely needed improvements to the Market — a 30-character limit on app titles? Really? And how about a non-Android Web view of the market — Google of all companies should know the importance of linking).

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  • Susan

    > Android apps were tracking at about 10% of
    > iPhone sales for the same title

    10%? Oh, big “gain” in the “gaining ground” landslide.

  • Nick

    @Susan- the increase in Android downloads is a 12% increase over a two month time span. That’s a lot.

  • Andrew Savikas

    @Susan — an increase from 10% to 22% in two months is a very big increase in market share. At that run rate, Android will match iPhone among buyers of our apps within 6 months.

  • Al

    Our iPhone apps and Android apps are identical. Android sales remain 4-5% of our iPhone sales.

    Android Marketplace is not a place to make money.

  • Andrew Savikas

    It’s clearly not a place where you are making money, yet, but we certainly are. As I mentioned, there’s much Google could do to improve the market, but it’s already a viable one, and is empirically growing fast.

  • Ariel Michael

    A 12% increase is certainly good news for Android developers but one thing to keep in mind is that we’re at the very early stage of the Android app store and so you can’t forecast trends or expect growth rate to remain as it is now (or expand). The iPhone app store on the other hand is more mature and trends are clearer and more sustainable.

    @Al – You can’t base such a statement on one app… Many factors can contribute to the success or failure of an app, regardless of the delivery platform.

  • Andrew Savikas

    @Ariel — Of course; I wasn’t trying to say that Android *will* overtake iPhone in 6 mos, just that the observed growth rate is indeed significant (and certainly caught me by surprise).

  • peteyz

    BS article. When you start from near zero and have to catch up to 100,000, of course your growth is going to be significant. Existing iPhone apps (and if not the apps themselves, then knock-offs) are being “duplicated” for Android, so it’s not news that there’s growth. The real test will be how well this growth continues as the Android apps market matures. But by then, in 6 months time, there’ll be another round of iPhone hardware, the iTablet, etc. Apple doesn’t stand still, skating relentlessly to where the puck will be.

  • Andrew Savikas

    @peteyz — I’m not sure why you think this is “BS” as the growth lines have been consistent (see the coverage over at Flurry for more data.

    I’ve no doubt Apple will continue to innovate and improve what they have to offer, but the number of available Android devices (and users) is growing much faster than most people realize. In terms of our apps, the kind of growth I’ve mentioned here is most certainly more significant than going from 1 to 2 and proclaiming a “doubling.” This is sales data for the same two weeks across about 200 apps available on both platforms. The numbers are big enough for us to pay attention to.

  • Constable Odo

    I thought it didn’t make a difference that Apple had lots of apps because competitors claim 99% of them are useless. Now they happy that the number of Android apps are growing and so what if 99% of them are useless. Quantity does mean something, but quality probably is more important. It would still be likely that Apple developers are making more money than Android developers since there are far more Apple devices than Android-powered devices. It’s good that Android users are getting their apps so their devices become more useful to them. Android apps have a long way to go to catch up to iPhone apps regardless of current Android growth rate. At least a few years, I’m sure.

  • PXLated

    Let’s see… Oreilly Books = Geeky … Android = Geeky … So it would seem that you would have an explosive growth from the Android crowd. Doesn’t mean anything in the overall scheme of Android vs iPhone. Probably isn’t even relevant to other developers.

  • Andrew Savikas

    @PXLated — and 15 years ago, Oreilly books = Geeky … Web = Geeky. So forget this whole “InterWebs” thing. Email, Twitter, Web browsing, VoIP, and more than a few more were at one time more prevalent among the O’Reilly audience than the population in general. My point is that the rate of change was rather surprising (even among this geeky crowd), and by extension someone thinking even 6-12 months down the road needs to be paying attention to Android. As I said in the post, I still think iPhone will remain on top, but Android will be very important in 2010.

  • PXLated

    Yes, Android down the road may be important – or at least more important than WinMo, Symbian, Palm – But the fact that your books show up on Droid doesn’t say anything about overall Android growth or how it will do against iPhone and its ecosystem.

  • lover

    Oh my god why do people with iphones have to be so anti every other device. Can’t you just be happy with what you bought, and let others be happy that what they bought is on its way to becoming a very successful platform? I gave up my iPhone because multitasking was an essential feature I needed, android provided that and more. I am happy with my device and happy with Androids’ expansion. To me it just seems like jealousy. Plain and simple.

  • Ozgur Balsoy

    iPhone’s handicap will be sticking to AT&T in the US and one carrier in other markets. In the smartphone market, it is the Windows Mobile machines that are losing the share to iPhone and Androids. For the growth, you need to consider how large the non-AT&T market is. That’s the share Android will grow into whatever the quality of the App Market is now or will be unless Apple ditches AT&T and/or MS comes up with a miracle solution. I see a great future for Android. Software solutions and a better Market software is always easy to come up with.

  • Ozgur Balsoy

    Here are some numbers to better represent my point:

    Although Androids’ numbers are not more than iPhone’s as I would expect, still, the same number of people are willing to switch to these systems. This clearly shows my point that growth is relative to the space to grow, such as people willing to switch to AT&T compared to people willing to buy a smartphone.

  • James

    Elementary statistics fail.

    Consumers of O’Reilly books are more likely to be the types of people who will be buying and trying out Android hardware.

    On top of that, extrapolating long term trends is even more of an elementary mistake.

    Stand back, take a deep breath.

  • Savi Vila

    Android has near twice carriers than the iPhone and today and it means a huge advantage for Android. Just when the iPhone goes to other carriers the battle could be hard for Android.

    But no matter what there the 2 winners today with the iPhone still ahead from the others

  • justin

    I hear u on that one lover! Iphone users r some whiney bastards…I just got a DROID and it COMPLETELY stomps the iphone on all counts! It has better hardware and every feature iphone has and more…the only thing the iphone has that the droid does not is multitouch…and who cares? I wouldnt trade multitasking, better performance, and use of the verizon network for multitouch anyday. I can just hear all the apple/iphone fanboys weeping now! HAHA!

  • James L

    10 to 22% is an increase of 120% not 12%

    i’m going to give the nexus one a whirl when it comes out. I use google cloud services, none from apple. It makes sense that a google phone should integrate better.

  • Chris

    The poor representation of the Android Market made me avoid the platform completely. I was under the false impression the 10 applications featured on were all there is. Far from the truth, but extremely poor marketing by Google.

  • Kristoff

    Our iPhone apps and Android apps are identical. Android sales remain 4-5% of our iPhone sales.

    Android Marketplace is not a place to make money IMHO. Just in that case you’re genius :)

  • Pete

    Hmm, here we are in July and wouldn’t you know it Android surpassed iPhone in app sales and the did it with 1/3 of the total apps…

    Another Note, google is activating 170,000 Android Devices a day… This is roughly 1.2 Million Android Devices a week or roughly 62 million a year! At this Rate Apple will be a second rate market and Android will be the platform of choice within 6 more months.

    Face it guys, Jobs has done all he can do with his approach to this industry and the iPhone antenna issues are only going to send people running for the EVO or Droid X that much quicker.

    Oh and for the record this was typed on an iPad.