Warning: We May Need To Move On From The Android vs. iOS Debate Soon

New research released at Wednesday’s paidContent Mobile from the app analytics company Flurry spells out the force of apps in the mobile world today pretty clearly: there are 500 million of them and counting — a number that will only continue to grow as Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Android devices continue to add users, and platforms from the likes of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and HP (NYSE: HPQ) continue to try to compete on the winners’ terms, rather than try marching to a beat of a different, mobile web, drum.
Despite the fact that Android is adding more devices daily than Apple — 400,000 versus 375,000 — Apple still has a larger installed base, and is still the winning platform when it comes to developers and what they are choosing, particularly if you combine iPhone, iPod and iPad development:

But Flurry’s data also seems to indicate that the tides are changing.
Significantly, Android is giving iOS a run for its money in terms of user engagement, which has long been held as one of most attractive reasons for why developers flock to the iOS platform.
Apple still has longer user engagement for some app categories like productivity, books, games and social networking. But Android is winning in other categories: entertainment, lifestyle, sports and finance. The two, in fact, nearly mirror each other in terms of engagement numbers, in the following table, which measures minutes of engagement on different categories of apps between iPhone and Android devices:

It’s not too surprising, then, that Flurry’s numbers reveal another trend that could prefigure a mobile conversation that doesn’t immediately fall into “Apple vs. Android” camps. It looks like more and more developers are aiming for multi-platform apps. The number of these might be smaller, but they are growing at nearly double the rate of Android-only apps, and nearly three times as fast as iOS-only apps.

Given the cost of developing apps for multiple platforms, could this be another opportunity for the mobile web? Watch this space.