Smartphone App Stores Compared: iPhone, Palm Pre, Blackberry, Android and More

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Google Android Market

Total Apps: 11,169
Opened: October 22, 2008

Google only lagged a few months behind Apple with the introduction of its own app marketplace, but without as successful a handset to latch onto, the Android Market has grown at a much more modest pace. (The G1 and Magic have both sold over 1 million units apiece, while Apple claims that it has sold over 50 million iPod Touches and iPhones combined.)

That said, Google has flung its weight around to help seed the market with some interesting apps, including contests like the Android Developers Challenge, which offers programmers up to $100,000 cash to craft the most innovative Android app. And the efforts show. For instance, Android was the first mobile platform to get “augmented reality” applications, which superimpose data over a live camera view, Terminator-style.

Google Android Market

And unlike Apple, Google doesn’t take a dictatorial approach to policing its marketplace, arbitrarily rejecting and accepting apps with no transparency. Looking for a NES emulator to relive your Nintendo glory days during your subway commute? NESoid will do the trick nicely for free if you’re running Android, while Apple has banned all emulators from its App Store. Want Google Voice for all sorts of extended phone capabilities? Not surprisingly, Android has been sporting it for weeks, while Google still has its horns locked with Apple over getting it into the App Store.

Because Google only allowed free apps on the Market for its first four months, it continues to host a substantial number of totally free apps developed during that infancy. And like Apple’s App Store, most paid apps fall into the 99 cent price range, delivering excellent value.

Google doesn’t offer a desktop app browsing software like iTunes, but the open nature of the Market has allowed third-party sites like AndroLib to organize the full library into a browsable Web page form.

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