Google is struggling to stimulate sales on its Android Market store, with almost 80 percent of the ‘paid-for’ apps on the platform downloaded less than a hundred times. According to a new study by Distimo, the figures for paid-for downloads on Android Market compare unfavourably to the numbers being recorded for the same apps on Apple’s App Store.

Distimo’s figures show that only 20.7 percent of paid-for apps on Android Market have been downloaded over a hundred times with just two – Beautiful Widgets and Robo Defense – exceeding more than 500,000 downloads (but less than 1 million) worldwide to date. By comparison, Distimo estimated that six paid apps in the App Store for iPhone generated the same number of downloads within a two month timeframe in the US alone (March/April).


“These figures reveal how challenging it is for Android developers to monetise applications in the Google Android Market using a one-off fee monetisation model,” said Distimo. “This may be one of the reasons why the majority of the applications are free in Google Android Market (in contrast to the Apple App Store, for example), and may also be why developers have turned to advertising to monetise their applications.”

The study cites Angry Birds – the top rated paid-for app on Android Market – as an example of this phenomenon. “All of the Angry Birds series in the Google Android Market are free and feature ads, while in the Apple App Store, these same applications are all paid applications with far fewer ads.”

Google’s Android platform manager Eric Chu told Forbes recently he is “not happy” with the current sales in Android Market. However, the report notes that Android’s recent introduction of in-app billing should give developers more opportunities to monetise apps on the platform.

Free app downloads on the Android platform are unsurprisingly a lot higher. Based on download figures between 1 April and 19 May, almost half (48.2 percent) of free apps on Android Market have been downloaded over a thousand times. Distimo notes that 69 free apps have been downloaded between 5 million and 10 million times and 26 free apps have been downloaded between 10 million and 50 million times. However, there is only one app downloaded more than 50 million times – Google’s own Google Maps – making it “the all-time most successful free application [on] Android Market.”