Mobile Application Ecosystems: An Analysis of Android Ecosystem

Mobile Application Ecosystems: An Analysis of Android Ecosystem

Sami Hyrynsalmi (University of Turku, Finland), Arho Suominen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finland), Tuomas Mäkilä (University of Turku, Finland) and Timo Knuutila (University of Turku, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch100

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A clear indication of the change in the software application business has been seen in the emergence of new mobile device related ecosystems. We have seen these new mobile application ecosystems, such as Google’s Android ecosystem and Apple’s ecosystem, having had significant success in getting existing software companies as well as new start-up ventures to offer software products and services within them. New, young ecosystems, such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone ecosystem, are also currently growing and the competition between the ecosystems will most likely increase in the near future.

Motivated by the changes in software product business, we focus on analysing the Android application ecosystem, its developers and users. Although noting that this constitutes just a small portion of the whole software business, the data gathered from the ecosystem might uncover different modes of business within these new software product markets. Furthermore, by analysing the structure of the marketplace we can create a significant insight to the ‘health’ of the ecosystem.

Mobile applications stores have been recently researched from different angles, e.g. the factors of Apple’s iPhone success (West & Mace, 2010; Laugesen & Yuan, 2010), the supply chain of the phones (Dedrick et al., 2011), a developer’s perspective (Anvaari & Jansen, 2010; Holzer & Ondrus, 2011; Schultz et al., 2011; Hyrynsalmi et al., 2012b), the multi-homing of developers and applications (Idu et al., 2011; Hyrynsalmi et al., 2012a, Hyrynsalmi, 2014), ecosystem’s content (Feijóo et al., 2009a; 2009b), value network approach (Peppard & Rylander, 2006), overall framework (Yamakami, 2010) and from a business strategy approach (Zhang & Liang, 2011) have been assessed previously.

Although there is a considerable amount of existing research, the overall picture into the new marketplaces is scattered and built upon conceptual studies as well as empirical studies with a considerable small amount of data. Furthermore, some issues such as the monetization of products in mobile application ecosystems have not been studied, to the authors’ knowledge, before. Therefore further empirical studies with representative samples are needed to advance our understanding in the new marketplaces.

In this paper we are presenting an introductory analysis of the Android ecosystem1. The ecosystem was chosen due to the variety of data that it offers. The aim of the study is to recognize information gaps of a mobile application ecosystem beliefs and ecosystems seen in practice. We assess these objectives by gathering data from Google Play, the application marketplace of the Android ecosystem, and investigating several general assumptions relating both the developers and the customers: Is direct sale profitable in the ecosystem? Is it a reasonable publishing model to offer a free version to try? Do the customers pay for the personalization of the smart devices? Does positive feedback correlate with download decisions?

The data for the study is parsed from the applications published in Google Play. Formerly the marketplace was known as Android Market, in March 2012 it was integrated with other Google driven stores as a part of new marketplace Google Play. In December 2011, we gathered a dataset of free and paid applications published in the marketplace resulting in a sample of 339,861 different applications. In order to check the validity of the data gathering process and the data gathered, the data gathering was repeated in June 2012 resulting with the data of 366,938 applications. These datasets were then used to study the interactions of different characteristics. Our parser produced a dataset that contains, e.g., the name of the application, the last updating date, price, number of installations, rating of application, and publisher. The data was investigated by taking descriptive statistics to analyse the overall trends of development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Freemium: A monetization model where a part of a product or a service is free while extensions or additions of it are subject to charge.

Business model: The process of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value.

Android Ecosystem: The ecosystem created around the Google Play mobile application marketplace and including, e.g., the orchestrator (Google), customers and application developers.

Ecosystem Orchestrator: The actor initiating and setting operational guidelines for the ecosystem.

Monetization: Converting value created to legal tender.

Software Ecosystem: An economic community of actors engaging in any software application platform.

Mobile Application Ecosystem: An economic community of actors engaging in a mobile application platform.

Two-Sided Market: An economic platform with two distinct user groups providing each other with network benefits.

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