Google’s Android Market is far and away the app store with the largest share of free applications according to the latest report from app store analytic company Distimo. 60 percent of apps in the store are free – based on a US study conducted in July – representing an increase of 3 percent from May 2010. The store is believed to offer around 80,000 different applications.

Pandora Radio, Google Maps, T-Mobile My Account, Google Sky Map and Facebook for Android were the top ranking (1-5, respectively) free Android apps during the time of the study.

Distimo believes that the large share of free applications in Google Android Market may be influenced by the fact that developers from only nine countries are currently able to distribute paid applications in the store, and by the fact that users from only fourteen countries are able to download paid applications (out of the 46 countries where Android Market is currently available). “Additionally, users need to register for a Google Checkout account in order to download paid applications from the store (except for the locations where operator billing is available),” notes the report. The issue with user payment is certainly something Google is looking to improve; the company is attempting to ramp up availability of operator billing worldwide and is also rumoured to be working on a deal with PayPal.

Such a large share of free apps gives Android developers a bigger challenge in working out how best to monetise their offerings, and is likely to lead to them evaluating new innovative business models ranging from in-application ads, virtual currencies and up-selling to premium apps.

Distimo found that the share of free applications is smallest on Windows Marketplace for Mobile (22 percent), followed by the Apple App Store for iPad (26 percent) and BlackBerry App World (26 percent).


The full Distimo report can be accessed here.