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In early 2015, the Google Play Market became the largest mobile application platform, surpassing Apple App Store by number of available applications. The Google Play Store currently offers 2,127,612 Android apps. The 2 million milestone was reached in March, 2.5 years after passing the 1 million threshold in July 2013. In April, 58,467 new apps were released in the official Google app store, although the monthly average is closer to 40,000 new apps.
Android Market, the former name for Google Play, was initially launched in October 2008 as a platform for the distribution of mobile apps. Later, in March 2012, it was merged with two other services - Google Music and Google eBookstore - and renamed Google Play. Through the merger, Google Play has expanded the applications offered to include a wide range of digital media including books, magazines, music, movies and TV programs. The most popular apps are games, which account for about 41 percent of all new Android app installs. Roughly 90 percent, or 1.9 million, of the Google Play apps are available free of charge. These apps lead revenue generation based on in-app purchases that are made subsequent to the initial free download.
Despite Google Play's leading position by number of applications available, substantial effort is still needed to make it the best place for developers. According to estimates by Forbes, Google pays developers about $900 million each year. Given that there are nearly 150,000 developers distributing their apps through Google Play, it appears that the average revenue per developer is about $6,000, which is three times lower than Apple's App Store pay-outs to developers. Expanding monetization opportunities and reducing the number of low quality applications - which currently constitute about 12 percent of apps, according to the AppBrain low quality app detection filter - seem to be the two high-priority directions for development.
Growth in the number, quality and diversity of mobile apps comes not only from competition for users between the likes of Google Play and the App Store but also from expanding use of mobile devices and mobile internet. From this perspective, global trends favor robust app growth and diversification. About 47 percent of the world's population, or 3.5 billion people, use mobile broadband with the penetration rate ranging from 17 percent in Africa to 78 percent in Europe. At the same time, the relative cost of mobile broadband Internet service is continuously declining: as of 2013, monthly subscription charges accounted for 0.11 percent of per capita monthly income on average.
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