Android Free vs Paid Anomaly

distmo.gifLots of people are regurgitating Distmo’s latest numbers on the various app stores without including any sort of analysis. Here, I take a look at the free vs paid chart and make some observations.


Most of the platforms have approximately the same ratio free to paid applications. The exception is Android that has a much greater proportion of free applications than paid applications. The report itself says this might be because…

"…developers from only 9 countries are currently able to distribute paid applications in Google Android Market, and by the fact that users from only 14 countries are able to download paid applications (out of the 46 countries where Google Android Market is currently available). Additionally, users need to register for a Google Checkout account in order to download paid applications in Google Android Market (except for the locations where operator billing is available)."

Here are some other factors that might be causing there to be more free than paid applications on Android…

  • The 24 hour ‘no questions asked’ refund policy.
  • Up until very recently, the ability to easily pay, copy and refund an app.
  • Up until recently, the greater popularity of the iPhone providing a seemingly larger market.
  • A realisation of developers coming from iPhone, that paid applications aren’t lucrative for the majority of applications.
  • Confusing Android Market pricing in multiple currencies and hidden VAT charges
  • A thriving piracy community