Growth in Android Handsets Drives App Development

As Google’s Android operating system continues to gather steam, media companies and brands are beginning to follow their audiences and invest in dedicated apps for the platform.

According to data from mobile ad company AdMob, worldwide ad requests from Android devices increased almost six-fold between April and October this year. In the U.S., the platform now accounts for 20 percent of smartphone traffic to AdMob’s network, up from just 7 percent in April.

Looking to capitalize on that growth, media companies are looking beyond the iPhone as an exclusive platform for ad-supported apps, and both Pandora — the personalized online radio service — and CBS recently announced the launch of dedicated Android mobile applications.

Pandora claims to be registering up to 200,000 new mobile users a week. To serve that growing audience and its advertisers, the company launched its Android-native app early last month. Cadillac took advantage of the new platform as an exclusive launch sponsor through to the end of 2009. The automotive manufacturer used the opportunity — its first foray into mobile advertising — to promote its 2010 SRX Crossover model.

Aimee Higgins, vice president, sales and strategy planning for Pandora, said the firm’s goal was to offer brands the most effective mobile opportunities it could, and to capitalize on its rapidly growing user-base.

CBS also announced the availability of two of its most popular mobile applications, TV.com and CBS Sports Mobile Football, as android specific apps last month. Commenting on the releases, CBS Mobile General Manager Sam Parker attributed the move to the growing popularity of the mobile operating system, stating he expects “millions of Android handsets to ship in 2010 from a wide range of manufacturers.”

The TV.com application, developed by Rhythm NewMedia, allows users to access CBS video content on the move and opens up a host of video inventory as a result. According to CBS, a range of brands have already run actionable pre-roll campaigns across the application, including Microsoft, Powermat, Mastercard and Nikon.

The CBS Sports Pro Football app, dedicated to Fantasy Football and NFL coverage, provides near real-time scores and data alongside control of users’ Fantasy Football Teams. That application, developed by July Systems, has been sponsored exclusively by Ford.

Meanwhile in the U.K., newspaper publishers are also looking to replicate their success with iPhone apps on the Android platform. Having re-launched its iPhone offering this week, the Telegraph Media Group says it is now planning the release of an ad-supported news-driven Android application “within months.”

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