Roughly Drafted

Why it's harder to make money on Android than on Apple's iOS

May 27, 2011: 6:57 AM ET

Out of 72,000 paid apps in Google's Android Market, only two have sold more than 500,000 copies

80% of Android paid apps have sold fewer than 100 copies. Source: Distimo

The Utrecht-based analytics company Distimo generated some catchy headlines last month with a report suggesting that Google's (GOOG) Android Market was rapidly catching up to Apple's (AAPL) App Store and might surpass it by July.

What that report didn't mention, as Roughly Drafted's Daniel Eran Dilger pointed out in a pungent analysis entitled "Distimo polishes the Android turd," is that the App Store is generating billions for developers, while hardly anybody is getting rich in the Android Market.

In a new report issued Friday, Distimo looks at why that might be. One obvious factor -- not highlighted in April -- is that there are nearly three times as many paid apps on Apple's App Store (211,369, by Distimo's count) as on Google's (71,801).

What Distimo discovered this time is that, for a variety of reasons, Android generates far fewer runaway hits. The most successful app in the Android Market, with more than 50 million downloads, is a Google freebie: Google Maps. Nothing else comes close.

Among the other findings: (I quote)

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