Analysts estimate that Google Play app downloads will most likely exceed Apple’s App Store downloads some time this year.
The release of Google’s Android operating system started a rivalry in the smart phone industry. Since the first Android-powered smart phone was released in 2008, both Apple and Google have worked to develop their app stores and compete in this mobile arena.
Android Market was Google’s first store for apps. Four years later, Google rebranded Android Market, and the store became Google Play.
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and apps, was the first speaker at Google’s I/O conference, which focused on developers.
Android started with the simple goal of bringing open standards to the mobile industry,” Pichai said. “Today it is the most popular mobile operating system in the world.”
Later in his address, Pichai announced that Android had reached 900 million mobile subscriptions worldwide. That number has continued to rise.
“At the heart of this journey is the impact that we can have around the world,” Pichai said. “That’s what this journey of personal computing is for us.”
Within the same week, Apple announced in a news release that the App Store had reached its 50 billionth app download. At that time, Google Play’s total app downloads trailed by two billion.
According to a news release from Apple, two billion Apple iOS apps are downloaded each month. An official blog post from Google reported that the number of monthly Android app downloads exceed that figure by more than 500,000.
If the current rate of downloads continues, Google Play’s downloads will soon surpass those of the App Store.
A main factor in Android’s success is that Google’s Android operating system is open to many tablet and phone makers around the world. In contrast, Apple’s iOS is strictly limited to devices made by Apple.
Gina Johnson is a member of Google Play’s press team.
“The whole point of Android is user choice,” she said. “There’s lots of variation of phones. There are so many devices, and I think that’s what has helped Android grow and be available to so many different people. It doesn’t have to be one size fits all. People can pick what they want.”
This open platform has helped Android become the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Johnson does not, however, see it as a competition between Google and Apple.
“We’re just trying to help developers get their apps in the store and then people will download them,” Johnson said. “In terms of surpassing, it’s not really our focus. We just like to trudge along.”
Despite Android’s success as a mobile operating system, Apple has proven to produce a popular smart phone.
As of March 2013, the iPhone held a strong lead of the pack in terms of total number of subscribers in the United States, according to comScore Mobilens, a digital analytics company. Apple held a 39 percent market share, which was more than 17 percent higher than the second highest producer of smartphones.
Despite any preference of one service over the other, both operating systems continue to evolve and push mobile technology to new levels.