There was some noise earlier this week about Android Market having downloaded ten billion apps, and (more interesting) the rate going up to the point where it’s now a billion a month.

How might one explain these numbers?

New Devices · There are a million new Android devices landing in peoples’ pockets every two days; say 15 million a month. Make an assumption as to the average number of apps a new Android gets loaded up with, and multiply that by fifteen million to estimate how many of the billion downloads are to new devices.

Better Devices · A high proportion of apps are games, and games are more fun on the larger screens and snappier CPUs of this year’s devices; in particular on tablets. The average number of apps installed per device has gone up with each major release of Android, and that’s partly due to the hardware.

Better Software · Each new release of Android fixes bugs, adds features, optimizes the graphics pipeline, and is generally more pleasant to use. The more people like their experience, the more likely they are to load it up with this and that.

Better Market · Android Market is a lot nicer than it was three months ago, and back then it was a lot better than three months before that; and so on, stretching back over the years. So the pipeline from the developers to the devices in peoples’ pockets and purses is getting wider and smoother and more accessible all the time.

I’ll spare you my opinions as to which of these factors dominates the growth to the billion-apps-per-month figure. Have fun cooking up your own theories.


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From: Dave (Dec 08 2011, at 11:35)

Storage! After a few months, I couldn't install a new app on my Nexus One without first choosing one to get rid of. My Nexus S has enough main storage that that hasn't been a problem yet. And with Honeycomb and ICS supporting a single combined storage area, that problem disappears completely.


From: Grellan (Dec 08 2011, at 14:11)

Yup, storage is the big reason. The Nexus One was hobbled like a Ferrari with a 2-litre gas tank, and other devices in its generation followed suit.

Once everyone has their hands on devices with decent, unified internal storage (and ICS), people are going to go nuts installing stuff, and that billion-a-month figure is going to seem small :)


From: Paul G. (Dec 08 2011, at 16:09)

I don't agree with the point about the Market getting better. In fact I'm surprised that there hasn't been a recent decline in downloads (like I and other devs have seen recently).

The newest version of the Market will default (start from first Market screen) to only showing 2 apps after a search. Underneath this it shows 2 books and then 2 Music, 2 Movies. That's great if you're in the top 2 search results (or looking for non-apps). My app was there for quite a while but sadly no longer (#3 for the most common search now).

In fact November had the first days in the entire year that the iOS version of my app outsold the Android version.

Also, the Market continues to fail to inform buyers of failed orders (I'm up to almost 5,000 failed orders and many people don't know why their order failed, sure they get an email but ...).

People still don't know how to get their apps back after switching to a new Android phone or resetting their phone. They email me and I tell them.

Sorry to rant on and on like this. But I'm getting worn out by so much praise of everything Android. We need to continue to work to make things better and that sometimes means exposing the dark underbelly.


From: len (Dec 08 2011, at 18:15)

Screw Android (ok, there is a bad sci-fi image in there somewhere).

I'll take my content to the first company that can make something like AdSense a reasonable application app in cases where a password has been lost.

Really. How hard can that be, Tim?


From: Tauno (Dec 09 2011, at 00:04)

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with the Market part. The latest versions are a downgrade usability wise. The new Market UI is sluggish on most devices (annoyingly slow on a Nexus One - I don't want to imagine how the scrolling will look on low-end devices). Also discovery of apps was made worse for some reason. You used to see 5 or 6 apps on the front screen of Market, now I see only 2 apps without scrolling (portrait, nexus one) or just 1 app in landscape. Also accessing your installed apps (I'm a freak and check 5x per day for updates to my apps - the most used Market feature for me) used to take 1 tap, now it's 2 taps.

I'm sure you guys have made hundreds of improvements to Market that are happening behind the scenes + the new UI does look (way) better. But that doesn't change the fact that the most important thing for me - usability (ease of access, speed, etc) - took a big hit in the recent updates. And that's just sad.


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