A white paper generated by the analytics firm ComScore last week contained some rather surprising numbers concerning the cost of Android mobile applications. According to the report (PDF download), the top paid apps in the Android Market were “dramatically” more expensive than their equivalents at the Apple App Store. The report prompted a handful of conclusive and unflattering headlines like PC Mag’s “Android Apps 2.5 Times Pricier Than iPhone Apps.” The headline is true, provided you’re willing to take ComScore’s numbers, and its interpretation of those numbers, at face value.
According to ComScore, “In the U.S., to purchase the top 100 paid-for apps in the Android Market would cost $374.37 — an average of $3.74 per app. The top 100 iPhone apps would cost $147.00, or $1.47 on average per app.” The gap widens even further when only the top 20 apps are taken into account, averaging $1.04 for iOS apps compared to $4.09 for Android.
Not so fast, says ExtremeTech, which cried foul after taking a longer look at ComScore’s data and conclusions. The problem lies in the nature of the data, which fails to factor in the high-priced outliers – $15-$20 office tool applications, for example – and thus skews the numbers considerably. Additionally, only pay-once apps are taken into consideration, and free apps (of which Android has many) are completely ignored.
ExtremeTech’s Ryan Whitman is highly critical of ComScore’s decision to draw such startling conclusions from a statistic like the “average price of top 100 paid applications.” Whitman examined the same numbers and arrived at a significantly more restrained conclusion: it’s not that Android apps are two and a half times more expensive in the aggregate, it’s just that there happens to be a handful of expensive Android apps that also happen to be popular.
The lesson here, whether you’re in the market for a new smartphone or not, it almost always pays to read past the headlines.