Android Apps: The Next Big Thing In Mobile?

Google's open source mobile platform Android is flexing its muscles by reaching a milestone on the app front. While the iPhone app inventory still towers over the competition, the number of Android apps is on the rise.

The number of applications for Google's Android mobile platform can now be measured in the tens of thousands. According a report by the Web site Androlib, which tracks Android use, there are now more than 20,000 Android applications available for download. Of those, 62.2 percent are free and 37.8 percent require a fee.

While it's a nice bit of momentum for Android -- doubling the number of apps available in the Android Market store in the last five months -- the upstart mobile platform is barely in the ballpark compared to the 100,000-plus applications available for the iPhone.

But analyst Jack Gold said Android's fast growth shows it "has the potential to be a very credible, serious competitor to the iPhone in the next 12 months. And Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is going all out to make it easier to develop more applications," Gold, who heads the technology research firm J. Gold Associates, told InternetNews.com. "Android is basically Linux, so it's a techie's dream."

Another difference is that Android is available on a number of different devices from different vendors, while the App Store is limited to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Google itself is rumored to be developing its own branded and unlocked Android phone for release next year.

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