A Statistical Comparison of the iOS and Android Stores

A few months ago I published a blog post which showed the results of analysing the meta-data of 75,000 apps from the iTunes App Store. This analysis revealed some interesting results; 75% of apps are free, 60% have no ratings and the Entertainment category has the worst user ratings. This blog post continues the analysis by adding 60,000 Android apps into the mix.

For those of you that like their information presented in tweet-sized portions, here are some quick results

  • The iOS store has 3.5x more business apps than the Android store, and 2x more Education apps.
  • Both stores have roughly the same number of free apps, at 75%
  • The most expensive category in the Android store is Medicine at $21 avg, which is double the most expensive iOS category, Business, with an average price of $12.
  • The average user rating of Android apps is slightly lower than iOS apps
  • The Apple store has 3x more apps with zero user ratings.


Apple provides an API for querying the App Store which made my task of downloading app meta-data relatively straightforward. I simply wrote some JavaScript code that performed random queries and left it running for a few days in order to build up a catalogue of meta-data. I was a little surprised to learn that the Android Play store lacks a public API. However, there is an unofficial Java API which served my purposes quite well.

Unfortunately queries via this API only return a maximum of 10 results, which did make the process of fetching my data-set take a little longer that the iOS equivalent ...

I used the same approach to analysing the Android data as I did for iOS, saving the results as a JSON file which I analysed using some simple JavaScript code (run in node), with the results visualised using D3.js. In the visualisations below, mouse-over the charts to see the corresponding category highlighted within each store.

Category Distribution

The following chart shows the distribution of apps within the categories of their respective store:




Interestingly the most populated category for each store is Games, with 16.1% in each. However, there are some significant differences just below, with the iOS store having 3.5x more business apps that the Android store, and 2x more Education apps.

One popular category in the Android store is Personalization, which includes tools such as custom keyboards, widget managers and launchers. The majority of the apps in this category are OS-level customisations which are simply not possible on the iOS platform.

Proportion of Apps which are Free

Next up is the proportion of free apps within each store:




Personally I was a little surprised by this result. I recall reading in a number of places that there are far more free apps in the Android store. However, most of the articles that make this claim are quite dated. It would appear that the two stores have gradually become more alike in this respect.

Price by Category

Price-related statistics are always of interest, and there is a significant variation in the average price you pay for an app based on its category. The following chart shows the average price per category for each store:




The price of Android apps is on average higher than the price of iOS apps. Although, this doesn't necessarily mean that the same app (e.g. Angry Birds) will cost more on Android that iOS, it just indicates that the average cost is higher. This result agrees with similar analysis that that has been published in the past.

The most expensive category in the Android store is Medicine, where the average price is $21. This is roughly 2.5x greater than the average price for medical apps in the iOS store.

Ratings Distribution

The following chart shows the ratings distribution for each store:




I have seen some detailed analysis on 'customer satisfaction', which claimed that iOS apps are better quality than their Android equivalents and as a result customers are more satisfied. Comparing the ratings distributions above, the user-feedback within each store looks quite similar, and doesn't indicate a significant difference in satisfaction.

Ratings By Category

Breaking the ratings down by category, the following chart shows the average user rating by category for each store:




The variation in average rating between categories is pretty small within each store. Some interesting observations are that Health & Fitness apps have relatively high ratings in the iOS store, but sit near the bottom for Android. Probably just as worthy of note is that one of the top-rated Android categories is Personalization. The opportunity to significantly customise their phone is very well received by Android users. Apple take note!

Proportion of Apps with zero rating

The following charts show the proportion of apps that have zero user ratings:




The difference here is striking, 60% of iOS apps have no user ratings, which no doubt leaves their developers feeling quite depressed! In contrast, only 20% of apps on the Android store have zero ratings. I have read an interesting article which attributes this difference to the superior user experience of the Android store, which does more to encourage ratings and feedback.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this little exploration of the Android and iOS stores. If you have any other ideas for potential charts, analyses or correlations to explore, let me know and I'll try them out.

Regards, Colin E.

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