Report: Android app market growing faster than iPhone apps

Lookout says Android market could overtake Apple App Store in number of apps by mid-2012 if current growth rate continues.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
3 min read
Based on the number of new apps since August, the Android market is growing at a faster rate than the Apple App Store, according to Lookout.
Based on the number of new apps since August, the Android market is growing at a faster rate than the Apple App Store, according to Lookout. Lookout

BARCELONA -- The Android Market is growing at three times the rate of Apple's App Store, according to a report released today by mobile security firm Lookout.

The number of Android Market apps increased about 127 percent since August, while the number of apps in the Apple App Store grew at a rate of 44 percent during that period, the company said in its latest App Genome Project report, which is based on an analysis of more than 500,000 mobile apps for those mobile platforms.

"The Android is maturing fast," but the Apple App Store still has significantly more apps, Lookout Chief Technology Officer Kevin Mahaffey told CNET in a phone interview. Based on Of the apps available to U.S. users, which reflects the apps Lookout analyzed, there are 350,000, apps for the iPhone compared to Android's 88,000, which more than doubled from 39,000 in August, according to Lookout. Overall, however, there are more than 150,000 Android apps, according to Google.

Apple may have a higher percentage of paid apps but the number is rising on Android - from 22 percent of the total to 34 percent since August, while the number of paid apps in the Apple App Store declined slightly, from 70 percent of the total to 66 percent.

"If apps continue to be developed for each platform at this same rate, the Android Market will have more apps than the Apple App Store by mid-2012," Mahaffey said.

Developers still seem to be flocking to Apple. The Apple App Store attracted nearly 23,000 additional developers between August 2010 and February 2011, while the Android Market attracted just over 4,000 additional developers in the same time period. The average number of apps submitted per developer is 6.6 for the Android Market and 4.8 for the Apple App Store.

And the company noticed that a lot of apps in both marketplaces have the capability to access users' location and contact information, although that seems to be decreasing over time as developers become more about privacy concerns. On the iPhone, 11 percent of the apps have permission to access contacts and 34 percent can access location, compared to 7.5 percent and 28 percent, respectively, for Android. Just because an app has permission to access sensitive data doesn't mean it actually does or that it is using that information for anything other than legitimate purposes, Mahaffey said.

Lookout also analyzed four alternative app markets -- two Android marketplaces targeting Chinese users and two markets providing owners of jail-broken devices access to apps not available in the official App Store and to pirated apps. Lookout found that a higher number of apps that could be repackaged with malware or illegitimate ad code on the alternative markets.

The company launched the App Genome Project last summer to analyze the security aspects of apps on the competing smartphone platforms and provide information that can help users be more secure. Users should be careful when downloading apps regardless of their source, Mahaffey said.

The San Francisco-based company released the report in the midst of two trade shows this week - the Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona and the RSA 2011 security conference in San Francisco.

Updated February 17 at 2 a.m. PDT to clarify that there are a total of more than 150,000 Android apps, 88,000 of which are available to users in the U.S. and analyzed by Lookout.