Making money from paid apps in Android Market a challenge for app developers

google apps sphereIt’s more difficult for app developers to make money in the Google Android Market than in the Apple App Store using the one-off fee model, according to the latest findings from app analytics company Distimo.

A study published this week shows that among paid apps in the Google Android Market, 80% have been downloaded less than 100 times.

Distimo found that it’s “more challenging for developers in the Google Android Market than in the Apple App Store to monetize using a one-off fee monetization model.” Big sellers in the Android market (ie. paid apps downloaded more than half a million times) number just two. In the Apple App Store, in contrast, six paid apps have been downloaded as many times, and that’s just in a two month time frame, and in the US alone.

Looking more closely at Google’s app store, we are told by the Netherlands-based analytic company that there are 96 apps which have been downloaded more than 5 million times. There’s one free app that really stands out from the crowd, with more than 50 million downloads – Google Maps.

Among paid games in the Android market, there are just five which have been downloaded more than 250,000 times. As for the Apple App Store, in the space of just two months, there are ten paid games that have generated more than 250,000 downloads – and that’s in the US alone.

Distimo points out that one reason for Android paid apps being downloaded so few times is because “the top charts in the Google Android Market change very little over time. This is caused by the fact that Google also takes long-term performance of applications into account in order to rank applications.” Compared to the app charts in the Android store, apps in the Apple charts change more frequently and so a wider variety gain exposure, resulting in a broader spread of sales.

This is clearly illustrated when looking at apps at the top of the charts in the month of April: “The top 10 free and top 10 paid together have seen only 26 applications in the Google Android Market, while there have been 94 applications in the top 10 free and paid in the Apple App Store for iPhone,” Distimo says.

With the one-off fee monetization model proving challenging, many Android app developers are opting to put out ad-supported apps. Distimo cites Rovio’s Angry Birds as an example. “All the Angry Birds series in the Google Android Market are free and feature ads, while in the Apple App Store, these same applications are all paid applications with far fewer ads.” Apps with ads are doing just fine, according to Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka. “We’re very happy with the monetization that it provides us with,” he says.

As for Android app developers with decent apps languishing in the depths of the charts, they’ll be hoping that Google changes the way it calculates the rankings. Pair that up with some creative marketing and people might start digging into their pockets.