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Report indicates iOS users stick with platform due to 'lock-in effect'

Citing a report from research2guidance, GigaOM notes that Apple's market share of app downloads reversed the backward slide that began in 2009 and recently increased by 2 percent. This is a far cry from the doom n' gloom predictions many pundits have been espousing for Apple's platform, and it shows that Google's Android Marketplace still has a long way to go before unseating Apple's App Store.

The report speculates that a "lock-in effect" is partially responsible for users sticking with Apple's platform. iOS users, whether they're iPhone, iPod touch or iPad owners, tend to download a large number of apps, with a fairly high percentage of those apps being paid versions. The higher number of paid apps a user downloads, the more likely it is that user will stick with the same platform. This makes perfect sense; if you're like me and you've got a couple hundred bucks worth of apps on your various devices, that's a lot of inertia to overcome if you decide you want to switch platforms.

When you flip it around and look at things from the Android perspective, things don't look as rosy. GigaOM recently cited research from Distimo that showed paid downloads represent a truly minuscule proportion of total app downloads from the Android Market. 79.3 percent of paid apps on the Android platform have been downloaded less than 100 times, and only 4.6 percent of paid apps were downloaded more than 1000 times. A 2010 Distimo report (again cited from GigaOM) noted that Android users download a disproportionately large number of free apps compared to the iOS platform, and that trend doesn't appear to be reversing.

The end result is that for all we hear from various tech pundits about Android's ascending smartphone market share being the only metric that matters, other numbers are showing that not only are users more likely to stick with iOS due to app 'lock-in,' Apple's App Store also remains a more attractive market for app developers who actually want to make money with paid apps. CNNMoney's analysis of the same Distimo report paints a very stark picture: of 72,000 paid apps on the Android platform, only two have sold more than 500,000 (but less than one million) copies over the history of the platform. Contrast that with six paid applications generating 500,000 or more downloads just in the US version of the iPhone's App Store in March and April alone.

How many paid apps have you downloaded for your iOS device, and do you consider that an impediment to switching platforms? Let us know in the comments.

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