Are Android users cheapskates by nature? That's one possible conclusion you could draw from a hot-off-the-presses comparative app store report conducted by app store research firm Distimo in the month of May.
Just the facts, ma'am
The Android Marketplace by Google
But you could jump to many other conclusions, too. For example, the average price of the top 100 non-free applications in the Android store works out to $4.27 while the same figure for the iPhone market lands at a mere $2.62. So, once Android users decide to pay up for an application, their wallets open wider than the iPhone owners'.
You'll see plenty of stories today bending the Distimo data to fit various pet theories and biases. It's easily done because Distimo left out a few important data points: We don't know how many applications showed up in each store during the study period; we only have availability and average prices but no sales reports, and the samples could be skewed six ways from Sunday.
OK, so the top 10 apps for the Research In Motion
What's special about Android, then?
The Android platform appears to attract programmers of an open-source mind-set. The idea is to give away the app and make money in other ways. In the traditional software world, that means Red Hat
The verisimilitude to Google's own business model is glaring. Inspire people to surf the web more and Google collects ad clicks as an incidental side effect of higher traffic. As long as Google can place AdMob ads in programs found at the Apple store, the iPhone is actually Google's friend. Even if that sales opportunity goes away, as Apple has threatened but not followed up on, the simple Web browser that is so central to any smartphone's user experience is another conduit for Google's marketing might.
So, are Android users cheapskates? The answer is an unqualified "yes, no, and maybe," based on what the Distimo report shows us. But Google makes money from Android -- and all other smartphones -- either way.