The Droid vs. the iPhone: Let's count the appsOctober 29, 2009: 12:58 PM ET
Apple has 93,000 to Android's 11,300. But how many applications do you really need?
In the flurry of quickie reviews that appeared overnight after Wednesday's unveiling of Motorola's (MOT) Droid -- Google (GOOG) and Verizon's (VZ) latest answer to Apple's (AAPL) iPhone -- little has been said about how the two platforms stack up in terms of apps.
At first glance, it seems an unfair comparison. Apple has spent a small fortune promoting those famous 85,000 iPhone applications -- a number than has since grown to roughly 93,000 and is on track to hit 100,000 in a matter of weeks.
But it's not as if there are no apps for the Droid. As of Thursday morning there were 11,284, according AndroidLib.com's unofficial count of the offerings in Google's Android Market. Moreover, that number too is growing by the thousands. Android developers added 2,333 new apps in September and another 2,431 so far in October.
To be sure, the App Store is growing faster, and has been from the start. Android's Market has been open for business since Feb. 2009; when the App Store was eight months old, it was adding nearly 7,000 apps per month.
But how many apps does a smartphone really need? 10,000 may well be enough to serve Motorola and Verizon's needs, not to mention their users'.
Besides, it's early days yet -- way too early to know how the Android-iPhone face-off will shake out.
In many ways, it's a battle reminiscent of the PC operating system wars of the 1990s, with Google's Android playing the role of Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows. Like Microsoft, Google is offering an OS (albeit one that is license-free) that will run on multiple vendors' hardware. Apple, as usual, is being Apple, keeping tight control of both the operating system and the hardware it runs on. Only this time, it's Apple that was first to win the heart and minds of the developers.
But Google, the Droid and the other Android phones in the works could still catch up. At least one analyst -- Gartner's Ken Dulaney -- believes they will. He's on record predicting that the Android OS will overtake the iPhone in terms of global market share by 2012.
The Droid is scheduled to go on sale Friday, Nov. 6, for $199 after rebate, the same price as a 16 gig iPhone 3GS.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]