Friday, March 12, 2010

Android users download most tools, but spend most money on productivity apps

Just a month ago, we launched AppBrain, a website and Android app to discover and install great apps. We received fantastic feedback from our users, and since then we have launched many additional features, such as personalized app recommendations, new sharing options, a new app list browser, continuous updates to the app database, and many more.

Today we analyzed some of the interesting data that is available in the lists of apps users store on the AppBrain servers. Recently, others have shown that the number of free apps in the Android Market is relatively high [Reuters, Techcrunch], and that games seem unpopular in the Android Market [Techcrunch]. Interestingly, these conclusions were drawn from indirect data (availability of apps in the market and traffic statistics of a website showing Android apps), therefore it would be interesting to look at actual install figures.

We extracted a representative sample of application installations from the AppBrain database. This data is uploaded by the "AppBrain Market Sync" application and thus directly reflects what people have installed on their phones. (However, there are still limitations of this data. As the application lists are uploaded by a special applications for app lovers, our population probably is biased towards people who are more interested in apps in general. Therefore they'll likely have more apps installed than the overall population.)

Phone models
The data we present comes from 5,000 applists, which were randomly selected from our database of uploaded app lists. The phones from which these were uploaded were running Android 1.5 in 35% of cases, 1.6 in 34%, 2.0 in 21% 2.0 and 2.1 in 10%. This is quite similar to the official numbers from early January listed on the Android developer site (except for the Nexus which didn't exist yet in early Jan.).
We will present our stats broken down by Android version, as later Android versions are better and might reflect behavior of newer users more than the older versions. Especially for gaming the later Android versions (and the better hardware they run on) are much better than the earlier ones.

Installations of games and paid apps
First we look at the number of games installed per phone. Figure 1 shows in light green (left axis) the average number of games per device and the dark green bars (right axis) show the fraction of all apps that are games. The number of games s around 6.5 across the board. However, in later Android versions it makes up a lesser percentage as people are installing more apps in total.


Figure 2 shows install numbers for paid apps. About 70% of all phones in our sample had at least one paid app, and this number seemed to rise with the Android version. The mean number of paid apps installed is about 5, and total money spent on them around $18.25, without a clear trend across Android versions.



Installed apps and money spent per category
To get a better idea of what apps Android users spend their money on we analyzed the number of installed apps per market category. In figure 3, we have plotted each category with on the X-axis the mean number of apps installed per phone in that category, and on the Y axis the mean number of dollars spent on those apps. The dark bubbles are game categories. The size of each bubble represents the total number of available paid apps in that category.


It is interesting to see that our users install very many Tools apps. However, this could be a bias in our sample as only Android users that have installed the AppBrain Market Sync app (which is a tool) occur in this study. Still it is interesting that even though users install very many tools apps, it is not the category they spend the most money on.
It is striking to note the difference in the graph between the "Entertainment" and "Productivity" categories. Even though users have about the same number of those apps on their phones (4.5 vs. 4.2), they spend much more on the productivity apps (on average $4.48 vs. $0.55). And as the size of the bubble shows, there are more paid applications competing for the small entertainment pie than for the bigger productivity one!
With regard to games, the Arcade & Action category seems to be a fine choice to develop a paid application for. It is #5 in terms of money spent ($1.61), with clearly less paid applications than the Tools or Travel categories. The Brain & Puzzle category seems less attractive, Casual even less so, and Cards & Casino is truly tiny.

Happy app browsing,

Mathijs, Software Engineer