The best Android apps of 2012 (so far)


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It's not always easy being an Android device owner. Sure, you have your pick of a multitude of smartphones and tablets--whichever manufacturer, operator network or price point you favor, there's an Android product that's perfect for you. But when it comes to Android applications and games, the choices narrow dramatically: The overwhelming majority of mobile developers still forgo Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) mobile operating system in favor of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform. Sixty-nine percent of new application development projects initiated during the first quarter of 2012 targeted iOS, according to data issued earlier this month by app store research firm Flurry.

"Among the reasons iOS appears more attractive to developers is the dominance by Apple in the tablet category," wrote Flurry Vice President of Marketing Peter Farago on the firm's blog. "Not only does Apple offer a large, homogenous smartphone base for which to build software, but also when developers build for smartphones, their apps run on Apple's iPad tablets as well. That's like getting two platforms for the price of one. Apple offers the most compelling 'build once, run anywhere' value proposition in the market today, delivering maximum consumer reach to developers reach for minimal cost."

But Android is making inroads. Thirty-one percent of new project starts in the first quarter targeted Android--by comparison, as recently as the third quarter of 2011, 75 percent of new app builds started by Flurry developers were written for iOS, with only 25 percent focusing on Android. And despite Flurry data indicating that iOS installs drive four times greater revenues than Android, some publishers say the gap is diminishing: Japanese gaming giant DeNA reports its bestselling Rage of Bahamut is earning comparable daily revenues from both platforms. "Contrary to what we read, we've been very happy with Android monetization," DeNA Director Neil Young, who heads the firm's ngmoco unit, recently told TechCrunch. "There is not a big discrepancy between the two now."

Moreover, developers may initially target iOS for new app builds, but many subsequently port their efforts to Android. Every month, FierceMobileContent counts down the best new app releases of the previous 30 days, and while most launched exclusively on iOS, some of have since expanded to Android, finally making them available to millions of additional consumers worldwide. Like the saying goes, better late than never. --Jason

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