Smartphones

A billion Android apps downloaded but many never paid for

Sure billions of Android apps have been downloaded, but what percentage were paid for. Our poll results reveal the answer.

Back in early December 2010, Google announced that over 10 billion apps were downloaded from the Android Market. Not matter how you try to break it down - that is a lot of apps. The announcement and the magnitude of the numbers involved, lead me to ask a couple of poll questions.

First, I was curious whether IT Pros on TechRepublic were downloading Android apps, and, secondly, if they were, whether they were paying for those apps or sticking with the available free apps. I had my suspicions on how the results would turn out, but it is always better to confirm than assume.

Do the results surprise you? They surprised me a little - I have yet to find an Android app that I am willing to pay for, but apparently there are more than a few. What about you? What Android app have you purchased and are you still satisfied with choice to make the purchase?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

38 comments
junk
junk

I paid $29 for the Slingbox player. I use it 3-4 times a week. I had the old Windows Mobile version on my Touchpro 2, and now I have the Android version on my Galaxy S2.

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Some of the free apps are better than the ones you pay for. I'll try a free one that I need first, and if it works I'll keep it. If not, I'll buy it.

draco vulgaris
draco vulgaris

Some software isn't worth it! In most cases, an app does something that somebody found useful. Would you pay for an application that calculates a fifteen percent tip? I would not, it's a computation I can do in my head! Some people have difficulty. It has been reported that Albert Einstein could not calculate a fifteen percent tip! My wife does this calculation, if at all, with great difficulty, yet she was able write a novel with no difficulty! Go figure! So maybe there's a buck to be made here. Or maybe not. If you can program a Motorola RAZR V3M to calculate a fifteen percent tip, you could maybe make a dollar or two.

GSG
GSG

I've only paid for one. I've gotten a couple of really nice ones for free from Amazon's free app of the day that I'd have probably eventually paid for, one of which is a personal budgeting app that's really nice. Ad driven apps don't bother me. I don't keep the wireless turned on my tablet unless I'm actively using the web to save battery. if the wireless isn't on, then they can't deliver ads to me, now can they?

jimlangrunner
jimlangrunner

If there's a limited version of an app that I need, I'll try it. If there's a paid version that's cheap enough, and it does something really well, I'll be glad to pay for it. I avoid ad-driven apps as much as I can. I have work to do. There are not many things I'm willing to pay for, but when I am, I pay gladly.

frank
frank

If I come across a productivity app that allows me to test it's full functionality or at least the majority of it and the results are what I expect and the app fulfills a need of some type then I'll pay a reasonable price for the app. One example is Wyse Pocket Cloud (a remote desktop app). I was able to test the majority of the functionality via a free version-it worked well, met most of my needs for a RDP app. The paid version provided additional functions that also worked well so I had no problem paying for the full app.

nrkmann
nrkmann

Bought - Apps that help me study for exams

davechilds_2000
davechilds_2000

Its worth paying for if you use it a lot,and is useful for your particular style. Not worth it if your only going to use it once. You pay for the licence when you buy a computer which has W7 etc.,but then you use it a lot then it is worth it,and that includes updates,which I hope Apps will be updated also as well as the phone system. If an IOS is bought then all Apps should be free and updated also,not having to buy each App seperately,as it becomes not cost effective,as Apps may end up costing you more than the phone did. Just a thought.

Gisabun
Gisabun

You are assuming everyone would believe this "story"? You can't assume millions of others who use Android phones would foillow an unscientific poll of 179 people. Give me a break. First, the 179 are technical people. Of those using Androids, I suspect the vast majority are not. Second, any statisatician would laugh at this because of the lack of people in the survey.. This survey is like asking just Linux magazine users whether or not they use Google Chrome browser and then when the results are 89% in favor they announce that 89% of computer users use the Chrome browser. Jeez.

Liv&DieN; LA
Liv&DieN; LA

I don't pay for GMAIL, or Facebook, or Linux. Some of the best apps on my PC were free. So not paying for any of these makes it less reliable or as one commenter stated prone to shysters? Really ?

kschlotthauer
kschlotthauer

I usually will run the FREE app (with ADS) for awhile until I decide whether I want the full app. I probably have bought about 20 apps (most $.99, a couple of them where $9.99....GeoCaching). My philosophy is...if it something I will use more than 2 times a week, I will buy it. I have a lot of games that I don't play at all...all of them where free. I should get rid of them, but you just never know if you are going to be stuck in a line somewhere and need to entertain yourself.

tkejlboom
tkejlboom

It dismays me to imagine how much money Rovio has made if the got 10 cents from every user for each version of their game. I barely even ever play Angry Birds, but I still picked up the ad free version for 10 cents. Personally, I'm a little love/hate with the notion that someone...anyone... can, at least in theory, make $100 million off of a single game for a phone, even at 10 cents to a billion people.

swhite
swhite

Primary apps Touchdown, Tasker, and Wyse PocketCloud Pro. I also have a few other small apps with $1, fees. As long as I see value and stability, I'm willing to pay.

allshebe
allshebe

I wouldn't have any paid apps, bit they do, so I purchased CoPilot. As a result, I now have a decent GPS with replaceable batteries, but still don't need to pay for a data plan. For me, Wi-Fi is sufficient for my T-Mobile pay as you go Android phone (which is used for most everything BUT phone calls - have a "dumb" cell phone for that (I use the Android "device" as a GPS, as an e-book reader, for email when I'm traveling and have access to free wi-fi, etc)

yooper
yooper

I bought my Acer A500 in December of last year, and for the most part, I haven't really had the need to buy any apps. I see some paid apps that look interesting, but until I have a urgent need and can stronly relay on the quality of the publisher I'm sticking to the occasional free apps I see in the market. Even through most are .99 cents or $2 I'm not going to willy nilly purchase apps only to find out they're the same quality as the free version.

mark16_15
mark16_15

but I only bought one for $.99. But I didn't buy any when I had an iPod touch.

karan1070
karan1070

Hey BLATHOR In India people download a lot but they also upload too.

gerbilio
gerbilio

I have heard that Android customers don't like to pay for apps, which is why a couple of my students were instructed to develop an app in Mango for their commercial customer last year. That being the case, it would seem that professional developers shy away from Android and concentrate on a platform where they'll actually make some money, leaving the Android landscape to amateurs and shysters who peddle malware. Which confirms my suspicion: Android hardware may be good and the OS itself has some nice features, but by and large the apps are CRAP.

bunkport
bunkport

With and Android phone and Lenovo tablet apps from the first device are automatically paid for since I used the same gmail address to register both devices. iSilo document reader was the first paid app. I've paid for the same app on several other platforms in the past and it's worth every penny to me. Likewise Documents to Go which I had paid for on another platform and Dataviz let me re-use the registration. Then it came preinstalled on my tablet. I have the Amazon Appstore on both devices so I can check their "free app of the day" which as Jim Johnson points out are usually games, but occasionally there's a good freebie. Splashtop was free a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly with three app stores on my tablet, Lenovo, Amazon, and Android I can check all three and find quite a difference in prices for the same apps.

mcleodwealth
mcleodwealth

I have purchased many apps over the last two years and mostly I am happy with them and their price. Some essential apps are like 3G Watchdog, Tasker, Shazaam, PowerAmp and many others including some quality games. Maybe Apple's higher sales ratio is more due to their policies and practices than free market economics?

JSMc
JSMc

The Audubon Guides from Green Mountain Digital is a total justification for any nature lover to own a tablet. I first purchased the NOOK version of the Audubon Birds field guide, and then repurchased it from the Android Market so I could have it on my rooted NOOK. Since then I have purchased the Butterfly guide and plan on adding others in the future. I have no qualms at all about buying these superbly crafted apps which go beyond the paper versions in that they include audio when appropriate. The ability to carry all these field guides in so compact a format is really what tablets are meant to do.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

... or for an app that has a feature in the paid version that I MUST have or not bother using the app at all. But then I am probably not your typical Android user ... the ONLY game I have on either my Android smartphone or my Kindle Fire is solitaire, and I don't play often, nor for very long. In fact, now that I've looked closely, I am rather disappointed in Amazon's Android Marketplace for my Kindle Fire because it seems to be clogged with games. And the pathetic keyboard in the Kindle Fire prevents many sideloaded apps from working. That pretty well sums up why I still make more use of my smartphone (and make most purchases there) although I prefer the Kindle Fire's form factor.

joelheck
joelheck

I have downloaded many apps for my DroidX and paid for several of them that I use quite regularly. Unforunately, a lot of the free ones are not used, for lack of time or such. The point being I would pay for them to get rid of the Ad support, if I used them more.

ComputerX
ComputerX

I've paid for apps from reputable publishers that I know I'll use. I have Spotify (though that doesn't count) and Worms (an awesome way to kill travel time). I bought a chess game too, though only played it once - apparently I need practice.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

India downloads a lot.

rwwff
rwwff

I've paid for several, some rather pricey as mobile apps go. Most notably "b-folders" which gave me back an improved version of what I lost when the palm desktop fell out of fashion long ago; as well as backcountry navigator (topo maps) and Navionics marine charts. PCM Recorder makes the droid into what a digital voice recorder should have always been. Also paid for some weather and Japanese language tutor stuff. OTOH, I don't know that I'd ever pay anything to play a game on a smarthphone, but that's kinda whats great about these devices, they become what the owner wants them to become.

acro47
acro47

I've purchased a dozen or so Android apps and am satisfied with all of them, no problems with any in the 5 months I've been an Android user (phone & tablet); my purchases include AirSync for Double Twist, Watchdog Task Manager, Tecarta Bible, plus games like Flight Control, Block Plus 2, Doodle Jump, and others.

syoung640
syoung640

I paid for SlideIt -- a Swype-like keyboard. When my Galaxy Nexus didn't come with Swype built in, I was ready to pay. Nintey-nine cents is not too much for the added entry speed. I'll pay again for something I need, but probably not games...

barts185
barts185

What apps have you downloaded and use all the time, but would never pay for because you rationalize that some small error makes it okay to not pay anything for an app you use a lot?

ken
ken

It would be nice to know if there's any chance that your poll was statistically valid. The numbers in the article may be meaningless. At least tell us your sample size, how you solicited participants and for how long the poll was conducted.

FlagstaffCJ
FlagstaffCJ

There are some quality apps that cost money. I've only ever purchased 2 that I wasn't satisfied with the purchase. All the others I've loved and use on a fairly regular basis. Some of my "must-haves" are: WidgetLocker - Makes the lock screen so much more functional (and beautiful) Beautiful Widgets - You can find similar apps for free but not with the customization this one has. Pure eye-candy app but one of the best eye-candy apps. (Note: Fancy Widgets is about the same) ChompSMS - Recently started using Go SMS Pro instead but I was almost ready to "Donate" to remove the ads on Chomp. I still may go back but Go SMS is good so far. Pure Grid Calendar widget - Best Calendar widget in the app store. SwiftKey X - WAY better than the Stock Keyboard. I think they have a free version now but I'm not sure what the limitations are. Favorite Games - Angry Birds (ad-free), Fruit Ninja, etc. There are some decent games out there if you're into casual phone games. I'm not a huge phone gamer but it's nice to waste time when waiting in line somewhere.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What Android app have you purchased and are you still satisfied with choice to purchase?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Why is it dumb? At no point has anyone said these polls represent anything other than as a topic of discussion. Why must you be so serious about this stuff - we are just having a nice pleasant conversation about Android apps and you come along to sap all the joy out of life.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

Sounds like you made up your mind before even trying any Android apps. My experience with both iPhone and Android is that there are a lot of useless apps for both platforms and a lot of great apps for both.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Just to be clear, this is just a poll not a scientifically administered survey. The poll was open for a month and the number of respondents was shown in each results image. The results are just a good jumping off point for discussion.

fhrosa
fhrosa

SplashID - From SplashData.com - Password and login vault. Must have on every device I use. Allows me to have my password and login data securely available everywhere. VoiP VIdeo Sip Softphone - VOIP SIP Client with high quality codecs (g729, g722, h264, h263). Any client with better than average codecs will cost money. WhatsAppMessenger - free messaging over 3G/Wifi Oxford Dictionaries: English, Portuguese and Spanish. Each of them bought individually. Very useful to have a good dictionary with your most used languages available offline. Taskiller Full: this is the only one I had to buy to address a lacking functionality of the base OS. This allows you to kill and control various options about what's running on the background. These are the ones I paid for and keep using every day. I've also bought some useless things just for amusement but wouldn't buy them again (Magic Mirror, Rotary Dialer, The Moron Test (the only game to ever have been installed on a device of mine..))

Liv&DieN; LA
Liv&DieN; LA

I am all for discussion as long as it not mean spirited, our anonymity allows some of us to be downright nasty. Personally i find it tiresome when people get on their high horse and drag others down. Its hard enough to get by with coworkers or bosses beating you down.... Its pretty cool when you can come to a community and discuss things like adults and not get personal or abusive. MARK KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.