The Best Things In Life Are Free

According to Distimo, the app store analytics tool, its not just a free market that appeals to Android users, its free apps as well.

According to statistics gathered in the US in May this year a whopping 57% of downloaded Android apps cost absolutely nothing. Nearly double that of the next freest app market, Palm App Catalogue, with 34% free apps.

This state of affairs is clearly due to the Open Source nature of Android and the availability of equally open software development kits such as the fine (if occasionally temperamental) Eclipse which comes with a comprehensive Android plug-in.

All this means that anyone with an imagination and a modicum of grey matter can turn their idea into a product and distribute it to potentially millions of people. Not since the eighties, when we bought games on cassettes from the backs of magazines - or at least I did - written by lonely madmen in their bedrooms,  has the little man or woman had the kind of creative opportunity Google have created here.

Of course this anarchic brand of libertarianism has its downside: there is some absolute dross available on the Android market too. If we're totally honest, some of it is downright undownloadable. But, unlike the sanitized mall of the Apple store, all clean and safe, the Android marketplace is more akin to a foreign bazaar, full of back alleys and strange exotic smells and unexpected flavours. If you're looking for the original and the different, its the place to be.

If, on the other hand, you just want what everyone else has got, then stick to Apple. Who, by the way, have a measly 23% of their apps available for nix. Only one percentage point less stingy than the Windows Marketplace. No surprises there then?

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