Developers also need to consider the numbers. The iPhone OS also works on the iPod Touch, giving developers a potential market of 30 million devices (17 million iPhones and 13.7 million iPods, according to Apple).

The iPhone benefits from massive advertising, too – seems that O2 is spending all of its money on full-page iPhone adverts at the moment – whereas Android's marketing is more about word of mouth.

At the moment the numbers are firmly on Apple's side, although that may change over the next year. Manufacturers including HP are reportedly considering Android-powered netbooks, HTC is planning more more Android handsets, and Google's Andy Rubin suggests that Android could run on set-top boxes, sat-nav systems and home entertainment devices, including TVs.

Money talks

If you're a developer writing mobile applications, Apple has the numbers and the profile, and as endless reports of iPhone developers coining in the cash demonstrate, having a successful iPhone application can be extremely lucrative. Because of this, the iTunes App Store makes the Android Market look positively tiny, featuring as it does a huge selection of applications – good and bad – in almost every category.

The range doesn't just cover the usual suspects such as social networking apps, mobile Ebay, Shazam song recognition and the inevitable, unfunny fart applications, either: it also includes things like artist-branded rhythm games from musicians, utilities for controlling Sky+ boxes, games franchises such as Metal Gear Solid and many, many more.

Even accounting for some well-known problems, including Apple's reluctance to give the green light to fully written applications for trivial reasons, the growth of the App Store has been enormous. In July 2008 it launched with 500 available applications, and by September the number had increased to 3,000, with some 100 million downloads delivered.

The number of available applications has reached 65,000 and over 1.5 billion apps have now been downloaded. That's even more impressive when you consider that it took iTunes three years to deliver a billion music downloads.

Apple has the hardware, the hype and, most importantly of all, the killer apps that make people choose one platform over another. Until Android appears on more phones (and perhaps on netbooks too), Google's offering appears to be to the iPhone what Microsoft's Zune is to the iPod: interesting, but not enough to give Steve Jobs sleepless nights.

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First published in PC Plus issue 283

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