Android Apps to Surpass iOS Downloads by 2016

Back in October of last year, Google chief Andy Rubin stated that there are over six million Android tablets out in the wild.  You’d think that six million is a lot of Android tablets but it’s not, especially when you consider the entire population of the world.  But if you take into consideration how the Apple iPad is dominating the market, six million is not really that bad.

According to a post in Android Developers aimed to help developers prioritize the development of application features for the devices currently in the hands of users, tablets running on Honeycomb 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2 is at 0.1%, 1.5%, and 1.7% respectively. Honeycomb is the Android version made specifically for tablets so if you look at these numbers, you’d think that there are only a few Android tablets used.

An article from ZDNet states that “the figures just released show that of all Android devices activated to date, only 3.3% of them run Android 3.x, aka Honeycomb. Honeycomb only runs on tablets, so the numbers paint an accurate picture of just how few Android tablets have been activated. If we use Andy Rubin’s latest tweet claiming 200 million devices have been activated to date, that 3.3% running Honeycomb only represents 6.6 million Android tablets.”

Forever fragmented

But on the contrary, a lot of Android tablets aren’t running Honeycomb, believe it or not, they’re either running Gingerbread, Froyo or even Eclair.  Remember how Android updates are so freakin’ fragmented?  That’s the reason why there are only a few Android tablets running Honeycomb.

A lot of Android tablets sold don’t really have the latest version of Android when they get activated.  And as we all know, not everyone who owns a computer, tablet or even a smartphone has the wits to update their devices regularly.  Most device owners are clueless as to what the versions of Android mean for their devices; what’s important for them is that they have a device to use.

Ice Cream Sandwich on the rise

On the upside, the number of devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is rising, and will continue to do so.  As stated in the Android Developers blog, 0.3% of devices are running Android 4.0-4.0.2, while the other 0.3% are running Android 4.0.3.  ICS is the Android version compatible for both tablets and smartphones, though not all Android devices would get it as not all of them will pass the requirement for the update. Still, the most popular version of Android is Gingerbread at 55%.

An appy Android future

Another piece of good news comes from ABI Research’s latest report “Mobile Applications Market Data”, indicating by 2016 Android app downloads are expected to reach 58 billion, compared to only 27 billion for iOS.

Currently, Android app downloads lag far behind app downloads for iOS devices.  There are various reasons for the huge gap in numbers, one of which is the fragmented OS update for Android which affects the development of apps.  Another reason is that there are a lot of android devices which makes it hard for developers to come up with apps that would be compatible for all of those devices.  But this situation may soon be resolved when the ICS rolls out in the majority of Android devices.  The ICS would make Android more uniform, easing the app development process.

“Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings,” says research associate Lim Shiyang. “Many Android tablets in the market are still using older versions of Android, which disadvantages users from enjoying the better effects of apps produced from more advanced software development kits.”