Canalys: Unlike Apple’s iPad, Android tablets lack high-quality, tablet-optimized apps

New Canalys’ App Interrogator research highlights one of the deficiencies of the Android ecosystem: limited availability of high-quality, tablet-optimized apps in the Google Play store. Of the top 50 paid and free iPad apps in Apple’s US App Store, based on aggregated daily rankings in the first half of 2013, 30% were absent from Google Play. A further 18% were available, but not optimized for tablet users, offering no more than a smart phone app blown up to the size of a tablet screen.

Just 52% of apps had Android versions both available through Google Play and optimized (if only a little) for tablet use. “Quite simply, building high-quality app experiences for Android tablets has not been among many developers’ top priorities to date,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Shepherd in a statement. “That there are over 375,000 apps in the Apple App Store that are designed with iPad users in mind, versus just a fraction of this – in the low tens of thousands – available through Google Play, underscores this point.”

Google needs to do more to encourage greater numbers of developers to invest in delivering high-quality Android tablet apps quickly, else it risks disappointing consumers with weak app experiences in the short term. The 52% of top apps available through Google Play and optimized for tablets also includes six titles that appear as top paid titles on iOS, but are only available as free, ad-supported versions on Android. “While nominally free, set against a paid version of the app, ad-supported offerings typically deliver a poorer and often more limited user experience, sometimes taking a considerable toll on device battery life and often subjecting users to unskippable videos or other unpopular intrusions,” said Canalys Analyst Daniel Matte in a statement.

“To take the Play ecosystem to the next level, Google needs more than just a large addressable base of devices. App developers need to see clear potential to build robust and sustainable business models around apps built for the platform, so increasing monetization potential must be a priority,” said Shepherd. “And for tablet apps in particular, Google should go further with changes to the Play store to ensure more rigorously managed, high-quality, optimized experiences are highlighted, to the benefit of consumers, and to reward those developers who invest the time and resources in building them with improved discoverability.”

The top 50 lists referenced above are here.

Source: Canalys


  1. “Google needs more than just a large addressable base of devices. …, so increasing monetization potential must be a priority,” Tim is such a kidder.
    Thinking that Google is going to somehow change all the cheapo Android users that only want to spend ZERO dollars on a copy cat phone. There is not ANY monetization potential with that crowd.
    Too damn cheap. 😎

  2. Most of my family has iPads… but some have the Nexus just to be anti-Apple. I just roll my eyes and hope they don’t use it for banking… but don’t say anything because it was a present.

    1. Well, it is not entirely clear that they will…

      You see, optimising can take some hard work. Everything I hear in Android fans’ comments is about how wonderful Google is to build some kind of automatic UI responsiveness into Android and its APIs. And how Apple doesn’t have this feature, but goes the stupid and primitive route of having its developers create and upload additional specific “native” assets instead. Wow!

      Apple has that, too! And guess what? You end up with UNoptimized tablet apps! At worst you get phone apps blown up a couple of times (just what the survey found), or at best you get some elements shifted around so that different screen resolutions get filled up, more or less proportionally. Still crappy.

      No, the best tablet (iPad) apps are those whose developers have REIMAGINED them for the different use cases and possibilities available on a tablet. The UI of the app is different, has completely different views, and takes advantage of the additional space in specific ways! THAT is what Apple is encouraging.

      And… yes, there is significant, real fragmentation, with all kinds of hardware on Android, that makes this approach more or less impossible; so, the EASY route is ALL that Android users really have.

      Therefore, no, we don’t see Android soon catching up. Developers have not shown the ability to make a decent tablet app after three years of the iPad. This is why Android and Windows tablets are a fail, and no one tablet other than the iPad has been any kind of hit. This is PRECISELY why they are not as much a hit as the iPad — because it is HARDER to cover up the gap between Android (or Windows) on a tablet and iOS on the iPad, than it is to cover up the gap between Android (or Windows) and iOS on smartphones.

  3. Based on the crap Android tablet manufacturers churn out, it will be years before they catch up to the iPad. There is no way any sane person is going to buy a Nexus 7 tablet over an iPad mini, despite the price differential and lack of retina display (for the moment) on the mini. The mini is leagues ahead of the Nexus 7, it isn’t even funny.

    As for the iPad, it stands heads and shoulders above all the other tablets, bar none. With the wealth of applications available to it, there is no competitor in sight that can catch up to it in terms of overall ecosystem. And in design too the iPad trumps everything else in the market. I would never swap my iPad for anything else, despite the fact that I find the lack of a file system that is accessible to the user somewhat limiting. Still, the overall build quality of the iPad and Apple’s no argument warranty policy makes it a no brainer every single time.

  4. It would not matter if someone built the most bad ass tablet in the world for Android, the nature of the Android “open” ecosystem makes it very easy for someone to just copy, rename and sell your app as there own or just pirate your app. The numbers show that Android users are just not willing to pay for quality apps like iOS users are. So why would you spend good time and money developing a high quality app when there is no money to be made, so you develop for iOS and if you want it on Android as well you do the bare minimum to port it.

  5. This app advantage is another thing that Apple SHOULD advertise but doesn’t.

    (In other posts I’ve argued at length that apple today needs to up it’s marking and PR and won’t repeat too much of it here. But briefly Apple has no ads against Win 8 turd out for 2 years already, new iMac early this year no ads etc.

    Apple has so many advantages but doesn’t promote it. I bet MOST of the GENERAL PUBLIC DOES NOT KNOW THAT IPAD HAS BETTER APPS, or that OSX is better than Win 8, or Android has 90% of the malware etc.,)

    Jobs was a marketing and sales genius, it’s time for Apple to improve it’s marketing today (hire somebody if current staff lacks the talent). The ads for the last two years have not matched the iconic campaigns of the past (Think Different, dancing figure iPod, Mac PC guy ) and because of that Apple is being hammered in the press for being ‘not innovative’ (‘like Samsung’) etc, not because it’s reality but because Apple doesn’t tout it’s advantages or innovations.

    1. just read this, apple has fallen again in Forbes ‘most innovative company list’ to No. 79 (26 last year, No. 5 in 2010).

      part of apple’s current innovation is building the ECO SYSTEM but as apple does not advertise or PR it, no one notices….

      (apple spent a huge effort creating new glass bonding process for the iMac, , so difficult the imac was delayed for months, new camera tech in the previous iPhone, , CRAZY innovation in battery tech like that for the Macbook air, great improvements in the eco system etc etc BUT APPLE DOES NOT ADVERTISE THEM!! )

      I’m not a big fan of forbes but still them ranking 78 (!!!) companies higher than apple (in spite of the battery tech, the new macPro, iOS7 etc) , does anybody not believe Apple’s PR and marketing is lacking?

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