Five Reasons the Android App Store Will Beat Apple's

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At the moment, Apple's App Store has about three times the number of apps in the Android Market, with 300,000 for Apple to 100,000 for Android. But that will change --- eventually Android will have more apps available. Here are five reasons why.

No Big Brother censorship

Want to get an app in the Apple App Store? Get ready to face Big Brother. Apple applies inconsistent rules to what's allowed and what isn't. For example, it doesn't allow sharp-edged political satire, because of a rule that bans apps that ridicule public figures. So it banned an app featuring political cartoonist Mark Fiore --- until Fiore won a Pulitzer Prize, and then let his app in. It allows in a Sports Illustrated app featuring babes in bikinis, but bans similar content from small developers.

That's obviously very problematic for developers. Michael Novak, in charge of Android development at Medialets, a mobile advertising software company, told the New York Times:

"With Apple, you can spend months writing software only to be denied. The biggest reward as a developer is getting your software out there, and quick. That makes everything else worthwhile."

There are no such roadblocks to getting an app in the Android Market.

Problems with Android payments will be straightened out

At the moment, if you want to buy an app in the Android Market, there's only one way to pay --- through Google Checkout. That makes it much harder to buy an app than through Apple's App Store. That puts the Android Market at a disadvantage. Here's what Matt Hall, co-founder of Larva Labs that makes games for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices told the New York Times about that problem:

"It's not the best impulse-buy environment. It's hard to think of an application that you would sit there and put your credit card information in for."

That will change, as Google focuses on making the Android Market a better place for developers to sell their wares. Andy Rubin, the father of Android and vice president for engineering at Google in charge of Android told the Times that "We're still seeing the 1.0 version of the ecosystem." Translation: It will become much easier for developers to charge for their apps.

The ad model works for apps

The Android Market has a much higher percentage of free apps than does the Apple App Store. But free for users doesn't mean that developers can't make money by writing an app. An article in the Times today, App Makers Take Interest in Android, noted that the popular game Angry Birds was recently released as a free Android app, even though it costs 99 cents in the Apple App Store. The game was downloaded three million times onto Android phones in the first week. The developer makes money on it via ads displayed in the app. The Times notes, "charging for apps simply may not be the path to profit on Android." The articles goes on to say:

"Google is not associated with things you pay for, and Android is an extension of that," said Mr. Hall of Larva Labs. "You don't pay for Google apps, so it bleeds into the expectations for the third-party apps, too."

Google says it hopes to introduce a transaction feature for Android software that will allow purchases within apps, to help developers make more money.

Remember, Google gives Android away for free, and it's already $1 billion-a-year business, on its way to becoming a $10 billion business, because of ad sales. Developers will be able to make money out of free, the same way that Google does.

More users equals more money

The math is simple: If more people use a platform, there's more potential to make money out of them. Pretty much any survey shows that Android use will beat iPhone use worldwide. Wherever a market goes, apps will follow.

Android is friendlier to developers

Apple doesn't just censor apps --- it also sets draconian rules about what types of development tools developers are allowed to use to build apps. With Android, there are no such rules. Openness will win.

This story, "Five Reasons the Android App Store Will Beat Apple's" was originally published by Computerworld.

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