Apple app store still leads Android in total number of medical apps

The growth of affordable mobile devices cannot be underplayed in the past few years.

Coinciding with the number of smartphones and tablet computers available, the number of mobile apps have also significantly increased.

Here at iMedicalApps, our focus is on reviewing and commenting on the mobile medical app environment and its impact on the practice of medicine.

Focusing on the number of mobile apps available, it can be seen that Apple and Google are still leading with around 800,000 apps per each store. Windows has just announced that their app store passed 100,000 apps as well. This has been due in part to their tactic of paying developers to roll out numerous successful apps available on other mobile operating systems. Blackberry seems to also be facing this issue, with a large portion of their apps imported from the Google Play Store.

Number of Medical Apps

Breaking the number of apps down, people may be quick to assume that due to Apple iOS and Google Android having similar number of apps, that they may equally have the same number of medical apps.

Surprisingly, iOS actually has a substantial higher number of apps than Google.* Unfortunately, it is not easy to quantify the number of medical apps available on other mobile operating systems. This is due to Windows and Blackberry not listing a separate “Medical” section in their apps stores, and only a “Health and Fitness” category. At this current time, the Google Play store lists approximately 8,000 medical apps, while the iTunes store has almost 20,000 medical apps. This is quite the substantial difference.

One reason for this difference may be the fact that many developers recognize the majority of health professionals use iOS devices, and wish to target that market. It will be interesting to see in the next few years whether the playing field of medical apps will even out, or if one company will supersede all others, primarily by taking an active role in medical app development.

*NOTE: This article used data collected from 148apps.biz and Appbrain.com to collect the data presented. It is not currently possible to get an accurate count of apps on the Google Play or iTunes Store since they have discontinued the listing of apps available. As such, outside sources were utilized as mentioned.

Author:

Timothy Aungst, PharmD

Digital Pharmacist seeking to integrate technology and mHealth into pharmacy practice and patient care. Assistant Professor by day, blogger and writer by night.

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7 Responses to Apple app store still leads Android in total number of medical apps

  1. Marc-Emile Plourde July 12, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    I’m personally not a fan of comparing platforms by number of apps, as it says nothing about the quality of those apps. Granted, a bigger number probably correlates with more quality apps (absolute value), but not necessarily. Just something to keep in mind.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD July 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Agree quality and quantity are completely different beasts. I think the highlight of the piece is that the Google Play store isn’t that far away from Apple in terms of total apps — yet proportionally they have significant less medical apps.

    • Timothy Aungst, PharmD July 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Taking into consideration the high utilization of iOS devices by medical professionals, I think the current number of medical apps on iTunes makes sense. Most developers seem to gravitate towards iOS if their target population are medical professionals, and then target Android secondary. However, whether the quality is superior on one store vs another would be worthy of further investigations, and if the business practice of either Google or Apple encourages better app design.

  2. Chris Gates July 16, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    This also raises the question of what exactly is a “medical app”? As according to Christy Foreman’s (FDA’s CRDH) testimony in from of Congress (in March) so far the FDA has approved just over 100 Medical Apps. So are all these 28000 (approx) apps only used outside the US? Are these App developers running in the FDA’s gray zone claiming to be a “medical app” without seeking approval? Seems to be a lot of unanswered questions.

    • Marc-Emile Plourde July 16, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

      Your raise a good point Chris. I pondered over the “problem” of defining “medical app” a little while ago.
      http://messil.com/what-is-a-medical-app/
      It’s also important to keep in mind that neither Apple or Google restricts what they allow in their medical section. It’s up to the developer to decide what category their app fall into. I think this re-emphasize the fact that we can’t extrapolate too much on the absolute number of medical apps of a given store.

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