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Citing a study by Flurry analytics, Business Week reports that despite taking a modest lead in worldwide smartphone marketshare, the Android operating system's app selection is being outnumbered by offerings designed for iOS, and the gap is only widening.
The Flurry study, which tracks app developers using the firm's tools, discovered that Google's push to match or outperform Apple's App Store is slowing down, possibly due to the difficulty developers face in programming for the fragmented Android mobile OS.
âWe saw a greater migration to iOS,â says Flurry Vice President of Marketing Peter Farago.
As of January, iOS held a total of more than 550,000 apps in its arsenal, while Android's blitz to the top has introduced over 400,000 since the platform's launch in 2008.
More than 65,000 new projects were started by the over 55,000 developers tracked by the 2011 study, and the growth of new apps for iOS during the year roughly doubled efforts from Android app makers.
The trend away from Android could be industry-wide, as a 2,000-person survey conducted by Appcelerator and IDC showed that in November fewer developers were "very interested" in writing code for handsets running Google's OS than in June. Interest in iOS remained constant during the same period.
The number of new apps hitting the Android Market slowed down in 2011. | Source: Google
According to the app coders, the fragmentation of Android's ecosystem is to blame for the lackluster interest. Some note that Apple's iTunes system allows for a comparatively streamlined process that can quickly move an idea to a finished product, thus allowing companies to generate revenue with less overhead.
For example GameHouse, makers of the games 'Doodle Jump' and 'NCIS the Game,' claims that it makes three or four times the revenue on an iOS game when compared to its Android counterpart. This is in part due to the Google OS version taking two months more to complete because of the various optimizations needed to accommodate the litany of Android handsets available as well as constantly-changing OS versions.
Apart from platform fragmentation, the Android Market has multiple app stores whereas Apple relies on iTunes, which stores users' credit card data to make purchasing a simple and fast experience.
âDevelopers can make more money on iOS,â Farago says.
The mobile app industry sees iOS as the reigning champion of app distribution, however the sheer number of Android devices in the market make a compelling argument for the platform.
If and when Google can consolidate its partner handset makers and create a unified store that is as simple and monetarily integrated as iTunes, Android may well be the new industry leader.