Get ready for the Android app explosion

Article copyright 2010 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Android Apps

When it comes to smartphone app stores, size isn't everything. You may have the biggest selection on the block, after all -- but if you don't know how to use it, your impressive number won't seem so impressive in the end.

Still, everyone likes knowing they have a big one. And for those of us in the Android camp, the size of our app selection is about to get ridiculously large.

Android and the App Explosion

Android has always trailed that other smartphone platform in terms of sheer application numbers. I've never seen this as a huge problem, personally -- I mean, let's be honest: Whether you have 100,000 apps or 200,000 apps, odds are, you'll have no trouble finding a few dozen that you like.

Beyond that fact, with Android, you aren't actually limited to any official app store: You can download and install apps from any source, anywhere, anytime (unless you make the mistake of opting for an AT&T-branded Android device). There's no committee telling you what you can and can't put on your phone; the boundaries are practically nonexistent.

It only makes sense that over time, as Android becomes increasingly popular, the open nature of the platform will lead to an unprecedented level of app innovation and expansion. Already, we're starting to see that trend take shape.

We know that more people are buying Android phones than iPhones these days. And it's no fluke, either: Just this week, a new study told us Android has essentially matched the iPhone in overall consumer interest for the first time.

Here's how that success is translating into the app world: Developers are now adding more than 17,000 new apps into the Android Market every month, according to the latest measurements by the data-minded crew at AndroLib. A day ago, Google expanded the number of countries where people can sell paid applications, tacking 20 new nations onto the list. That means programmers from places like Australia, Canada, and Russia will now be among the many creators lending their talents to the Android platform. 

And remember: That's all just looking at the official Android Market. As we've said, the official Android Market is only one of the potentially limitless sources from which you can find and download Android applications.

Android Power Twitter

Take, for example, this week's news that Amazon is working on its own independent app store for Android. Some people have viewed this as a bad thing -- a challenge to Google. Sure, it may be a challenge. But that doesn't mean it's a negative. Like with any open market, competition is what drives innovation and ultimately benefits consumers. Having companies like Amazon creating intraplatform competition by offering incentives to developers will lead to richer and more diverse options for users. And if you don't like the way Amazon approaches app sales, you don't have to use its store. It's your choice.

(On a related note, by the way, if you're worried that an open app market will cause your phone to become infested with data-stealing mutant leeches, you may want to read this. An open market on a smartphone is no different than the "open market" you use on your PC; the general risks and manners of protection are the same.)

All together, this week's developments and the ongoing trends paint a promising picture for the future of Android's app ecosystem. The smartphone market is transforming more rapidly than ever right now -- and Android is well on its way to becoming the biggest player in town.

Not that size matters.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.

Article copyright 2010 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon