Google Play CSR

What with Android having a numerical edge on Apple’s iOS, chances are good that popular iPad apps will find their way to Google’s Play store, right? To the contrary, just half of the hundred most popular iPad apps in the US are available for Android tablets, according to a research firm Wednesday.

Of the top hundred iPad apps in the US App Store, thirty don’t even appear on Google Play and eighteen more are not optimized for Android tablets, just smartphone versions cartoonishly displayed on a larger screen….

“Quite simply, building high-quality app experiences for Android tablets has not been among many developers’ top priorities to date,” said Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd.

More than 375,000 apps in Apple’s App Store are designed specifically for the iPad. By comparison, only a small number – “in the low tens of thousands” – of Google Play apps are optimized for Android tablets, Shepherd said.

iPad App Store (search 001)

The statement only puts a finer point on the reluctance of developers to support Android. Not only do iPad owners use apps more frequently than Android tablet owners, but iPad app support results in more revenue for developers.

This last point is reflected in another finding by the analytics firm: Android tablet apps on Google Play are more likely to be cheap free imitations of paid iOS alternatives.

Per Canalys:

While nominally free, set against a paid version of the app, ad-supported offerings typically deliver a poorer and often more limited user experience, sometimes taking a considerable toll on device battery life and often subjecting users to unskippable videos or other unpopular intrusions.

Yep, sign me up for some of those unpopular intrusions.

The result: the average iPad app costs 50 cents and the average Android app just pennies, it’s evident Google Play tablet owners are unwilling to pay for apps and developers unwilling to work at attracting them. That’s why Google Play emphasizes the number of downloads, not the revenue.

That has to change, Canalys warns.

Tim Cook (iPad 3 keynote, Android apps)
CEO Tim Cook pokes fun of blown up smartphone apps on Android tablets.

The research firm explains:

It is important that Google wins consumers’ trust and encourages them to register credit cards and billing details, so that the barrier to them spending money on apps – and other content – is reduced at the point of purchase.

For what it’s worth, Google’s been bringing carrier billing on Play store to a growing number of telcos, though consumers can also pay for apps by allowing Google to directly charge their credit card on file. Apple does not support carrier billing on the App Store.

Still, Apple’s iTunes billing is so frictionless that developers and other businesses virtually salivate at the thought of the millions of credit cards iTunes has available. For Android owners, Google making it easier to buy apps will also improve the quality of apps downloaded.

Finally, once money is coming into Google Play, developers will take note. At that time, we should read more about revenue of the Android marketplace, not simply downloads.