Has Google finally taken a bite out of Apple? App developers switching allegiance after search giant’s Android software dominates Christmas sales
By Sean Poulter
PUBLISHED: 12:51 EST, 28 December 2012 | UPDATED: 14:00 EST, 28 December 2012
Computer software designers responsible for the Apps that helped make Apple’s iPhone and iPad a global success are beginning to switch their allegiance.
To date, Apple devices have had a major advantage over rival smartphones and tablets because they offer many more sophisticated Apps such as games, maps, travel services, business tools and restaurant guides.
However, this head start is being eroded as devices running the Google Android software now have access to a growing and increasingly impressive library of downloads.
The Android software runs on a wide range of devices made by the likes of Samsung, LG and HTC, which are considerably cheaper than Apple products.
At the same time the Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon, which sold in huge numbers ahead of Christmas, are reliant on a modified version of the Android operating system.
As a result, the Google software is running on three out of every four smartphones and tablets sold ahead of Christmas, which has created a huge and growing market for App developers.
The Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, has called this global battle with Apple over who will have the dominant operating system a ‘cold war’.
Before Christmas, he boasted: ‘This is a huge platform change… We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.’
In November, Apple had about 700,000 available Apps, which is about the same number as those available from Google’s Android App store.
In September, Google announced that 25billion Apps had been downloaded to Android devices, while Apple hit 35 billion in October.
Tens of millions more have been downloaded since Christmas day when people around the globe activated new smartphones and tablets.
Apple operates a strict vetting regime to ensure that only Apps which are of sufficiently high standard and offer high security make it in to its App Store.
By contrast, Google does not review any Android apps before making them available through its marketplace. That gives App developers more freedom but, on the down side, it also increases the risks for users.
While Google can claim to be running its software on many more devices sold during the festive season, it still falls well behind Apple it terms of cashing on App downloads.
Apple takes around 30per cent of the revenue generated from the sale of Apps and is said to make as much as £3.6million a day from the 200 most popular downloads.
The equivalent figure for Google, which has many more free downloads, is a much more modest £450,000 a day.
Loren Brichter, a former graphics engineer at Apple and now developer of Letterpress, a successful word game App said: ‘I am obviously biased towards Apple but Google is catching up.
‘There are so many Android users out there, it’s increasingly hard to ignore.’
Misha Lyalin, chief executive of Zeptolab, creator of the popular Cut the Rope mobile games, said: ‘Android is the platform of growth.’
Benedict Evans, mobile analyst at Enders, told the FT: ‘Android is certainly doing better than it was. The base is clearly huge. People aiming for ubiquity or mass scale will go for Android.’
Android is particularly strong in Europe, while Apple remains the market leader in the USA and continues to do well in the UK.