close button

iOS versus Android. Apple App Store versus Google Play: Here comes the next battle in the app wars

Published by

Summary:Apple and iOS had a head start with apps, but now Android has caught up and even overtaken it: how this will play out is far from certain.

By Steve Ranger | January 16, 2015 — 12:52 GMT (04:52 PST)

Apple’s wasn’t the first app store, nor when it launched, was it the biggest. When it went live in July 2008, alongside the iPhone 3G, it hosted a relatively modest 500 apps.

In contrast, Microsoft was touting more than 18,000 applications for its Windows Mobile operating system, The New York Times noted at the time, while Palm was claiming 30,000 active software developers working on apps for its devices.

But after a few teething troubles (remember I am Rich?), Apple’s App Store rapidly outpaced its rivals: 10 million downloads over the first weekend, followed by 100 million downloads in the first three months, and within a year that number had hit 1.5 billion across 65,000 apps.

Summary: All of the platform owners have stores for selling apps and content. But why do they do it? The answer may surprise you.

“It is going to be very hard for others to catch up,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted at the time. The era of smartphone apps had truly begun.

By June last year 75 billion apps had been downloaded from Apple’s store, and earlier this month the company revealed it now hosts 1.4 million apps which are available across 155 countries. In the first week of January alone iOS fans spent $500m on apps and in-app purchases (see the bottom of this story for a fuller history of Apple’s App Store growth over the last seven years).

There are some obvious reasons for Apple’s success. Quality control is one: by keeping a tight rein on both the smartphone hardware and the operating system, and vetting the apps before they …read more