Why there aren't more Android tablet apps, by the numbers

Summary:The lack of quality apps for Android tablets is simply a numbers game, and it's not changing any time soon.

The Android Market, now known as Google Play, is full of apps. The problem many tablet owners discover is that not very many of those apps are optimized for the bigger devices. While many apps written for the smartphone screen work fine on the tablet, they aren't written to take advantage of the larger display on tablets.

Many app developers lack the resources to write apps for two platforms, and a lot of them are choosing to develop for the iPad. App developers have many reasons for building apps for the iPad instead of Android tablets, and it is simply a numbers game.

See also: Great Debate: Will Android tablets always play second fiddle to the iPad?

Too many Android variants

One important number factoring in the choice of platform for developers recently came to light when a game developer announced he was pulling out of Android development. There are too many versions of Android to support, even on tablets, and too many hardware variants to easily make code work properly.

There are tablets running Snapdragon processors, and others using Nvidia Tegra processors. Code has to work on all of them, making both the development and support costs much higher than for the single iPad. That game developer stated they spend 20 percent of their time supporting Android, and it's only generating 5 percent of their revenue. The numbers don't add up for Android app developers.

One set of hardware and one OS to support is much easier than working in the vast Android wilderness. I believe we'll see a mass defection from Android soon, as developers continue to jump ship to the iPad.

iPad sales are leaving Android in the dust

The iPad is doing well in the market, far better than Android. Apple sold three million iPads in just three days after launch. That's also how many iPads are sold every quarter. Contrast that figure with the 12 million total Android tablets sold (ever) and you understand why mobile app developers would be crazy to develop for anything other than the iPad.

Those three million iPads sold in days and that wasn't even a global launch of the new tablet from Apple. The iPad will be going on sale in 24 more countries soon, which will no doubt result in millions of additional sales. The iPad is blowing Android tablets out of the water, and it's going to continue.

As a user of both the iPad and Android tablets, I can attest to how much better the app selection is for the iPad. There is literally an app (or several) for just about everything, and generally of far better quality than on the Android tablet. It is a situation that is likely to get even worse for Android, and there is nothing changing to improve that.

Related: Apple’s next-gen iPad: New battlefields emerge | Microsoft’s business pitch for Windows 8 depends on tablets | Apple’s New iPad In The Enterprise: Laptop Replacement Gets Closer | The new iPad’s great but what’s wrong with a good, inexpensive Android tablet? | CNET: New iPad hands on | CNET: All CNET iPad coverage (roundup) | iPad HD will surpass laptops on key features

Topics: Laptops, Android, Apps, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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