Android Overtakes iOS in Apps, Increases Developer Lead
Ever since Apple Inc. launched the smartphone craze, Google Inc. has been struggling to catch up in mobile apps, and it finally did in 2014, according to new data from appFigures.
Noting that the Apple App Store (iOS apps), Google Play store (Android apps) and Amazon Appstore (Android and Fire OS apps) all recorded substantial growth last year, appFigures said, "Google finally closed the gap and actually jumped ahead of Apple, ending the year with more than 1.43 million apps compared to 1.21 million."
appFigures is a reporting platform for mobile app developers that tracks app store sales, ad data, reviews and rankings. The appFigures numbers are roughly in line with other industry measurements, as Statista reported in midyear that Google Play had 1.3 million apps, Apple App Store had 1.2 million, Windows Phone Store had 300,000, Amazon Appstore had 240,000 and BlackBerry World had 130,000.
As for the crucial statistic of developer mind share, appFigures data indicates Google overtook Apple in 2012 and has since widened its gap, growing "tremendously" in 2014. "In fact, Google Play is distributing apps from nearly 400,000 different developers," the company said in a statement. "This is a much higher number than what we observed in last summer's report on app developers, meaning the Play store saw rapid growth in the last two quarters of the year." The Apple store has about 283,000 contributing developers. Due to the huge growth in 2014, appFigures said, "More developers joined Google in 2014 than Apple and Amazon combined!
The company also pointed out some interesting differences in the kinds of apps stocking store shelves, looking at growth in different categories, not total number of apps.
The business category led iOS app growth (and attracted the most new developers), followed by food and drink, lifestyle, social networking and catalogs.
Meanwhile, the games category led Android growth (and attracted the most new developers), followed by photography, music, business and entertainment.
"2014 was certainly the year for Google Play growth," appFigures concluded. "Kudos to the teams who run the store and help developers! With the most apps and largest developer community, Google Play is starting the new year with a kick. Market fragmentation and varying device capabilities don't seem to detract developers from making Android apps. But, with the upcoming Apple Watch, Swift and a larger screen, Apple is giving developers a lot to be excited about."
By press time, appFigures hadn't responded to a question about why the Amazon store (293,000 apps) was included in the study rather than Windows Phone Store, which reportedly has more apps by some accounts.
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.