new report from mobile analytics firm Distimo takes an in-depth look into the download volumes in Google's Android Market, and the numbers it finds are somewhat surprising. Android may have a larger number of apps - 200,000 Google reported earlier this month - but it doesn't have a large number of "winners."A
Distimo found that just 96 applications have been downloaded more than 5 million times in the Google Android Market, for example. In addition, 20% of free apps and 80% of paid apps have been downloaded less than 100 times to date.
Free Apps: Majority Downloaded Less Than 1,000 Times
Distimo wanted to determine whether or not the large numbers of available applications in the Market included content that was actually interesting to consumers. The graph below shows a snapshot of the Android Market from April 1 to May 19, 2011 in the U.S. During this time, the majority (51.8%) of free apps have been downloaded less than 1,000 times. A fifth (19.6%) of all free app have been downloaded less than 100 times.
69 free applications have been downloaded 5 million to 10 million times and 26 free apps have been downloaded 10 million to 50 million times. Only one app has been downloaded more: Google Maps, which is the all-time most successful app in the Android Market.
Paid Apps: 80% Downloaded Less Than 100 Times
In looking at the paid applications, downloads are even lower. While 24.8% of all free apps have been downloaded less than 100 times, 79.3% of paid apps are at this same level. Says Distimo, these figures reveal just how challenging it has been for Android developers to monetize their mobile applications. And it may also be why developers are using advertising in their apps instead.
In addition, paid apps struggle to reach high download numbers in the Android Market. In March and April, 6 paid apps generated more than 500,000 downloads each in the iTunes App Store for iPhone in the U.S., but only 2 exceeded 500,000 downloads in the Android Market worldwide.
As is typical, paid games did better than other categories with 5 games reaching over 250,000 downloads in the Android Market worldwide. Meanwhile, in the iTunes App Store for iPhone, 10 games reached that number in the U.S. alone.
Why is This Happening?
Distimo speculates that the reason so many applications have been downloaded so few times on the Android Market is at least partially due to Android's Top Charts. These charts tend to change very little because Google takes long performance of apps into account in order to rank them as the "top free" and "top paid" apps.
To compare with iTunes, in April there were 843 free and 584 paid apps that rotated in and out of the top charts for iPhone. But in the Android Market, only 388 and 363 apps moved in and out its top rankings. In the top 10 rankings, there were only 26 apps featured in the Android Market, but there were 94 in the top 10 lists in iTunes.
Being visible in these charts is important for generating more downloads, Distimo explained. Google may have realized this, as it recently made changes to the Web storefront for the Market, where it now displays more local content, plus top "new" and "trending" charts. This may have an impact on future download numbers, but it's too soon to tell.