Google's Android Market now hosts more than 400,000 active applications from about 100,000 publishers, with the majority of apps available for free, according to an independent study.
The Market's app store catalog crossed the 400,000 benchmark over the New Year’s weekend, four months after the Market topped 300,000 apps. Earlier in 2011, the Market also took four months to make the jump from 200,000 to 300,000 apps, according to Distimo, a metrics firm specializing in mobile application stores.
Distimo's 400,000 app count includes only active applications and does not include any apps that may have been recently removed from the Market because of claims of copyright infringement or the recent Android malware scare.
While the Android Market jumped by 200,000 apps over the last eight months, Distimo's report suggests Apple's App Store is currently growing at a slower rate than its Android rival. Apple's App Store for iPhone, according to Distimo, required seven months to make the jump from 300,000 to 400,000 in June. There was also an eight-month growth period before that when the iPhone app catalog grew from 200,000 to 300,000 apps. Overall, however, iPhone apps reached 400,000 in 37 months while it took the Android Market 39 months to hit the benchmark, Distimo said.
Distimo separates iPad and iPhone apps as two different application stores. Distimo does not appear to distinguish between tablet and smartphone apps in the Android Market. Taken together, the iPhone and iPad sections of the App Store make up nearly 500,000 apps, according to Distimo's year-end report released in late December.
More than two-thirds of apps in the Android Market are free and that trend appears to be increasing. Distimo says free apps now account for 68 percent of the Android Market, up from 60 percent in April.
The analytics firm credits the freemium model -- where developers offer an app for free but then sell in-app purchases for better features or more content -- as the main driver of the Market's trend toward free apps.
Despite what may be the Android Market’s faster growing app store with a wider variety of free apps, Apple's iOS platform is still where the money is for developers. The App Store for iPhone and iPad, counted separately, both beat the Android Market in terms of revenue. Apps for the iPhone alone brought in about four times the revenue of the Android Market, according to Distimo's year-end report.