Google's Android beats Apple in mobile app downloads

People may love their iPads and iPhones, but they're already buying more Android devices, and software.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Android winning the iOS app. sales battle

Android winning the mobile app. sales battle

We love our Apple devices. We love the iPad in business. We love iPhones to the tune of 17-million phones sold in Apple's last quarter. But, there are far more Android phones sold than there are iPhones, and with nicely priced Android tablets such as the ViewSonic 7e and Amazon Kindle Fire, the iPad is being challenged on tablets as well. So, love aside, perhaps it shouldn't come as any surprise that ABI Research is reporting that Android is now number one in mobile application downloads.

According to ABI Research, In the second quarter of 2011, "Android overtook iOS to become the market share leader in mobile application downloads. The market shares of Android and iOS were 44% and 31%, respectively."

In case you're keeping score at home, there are still more iOS applications than there are Android applications and iPhone and iPad users are far more likely to download an application than their Android brothers and sisters. "Despite leading in total mobile application downloads, Android's app downloads per user still lag behind Apple's by 2-to-1," said Dan Shey, ABI Research's practice director, mobile services in a statement. "Apple's superior monetization policies attracted good developers within its ranks, thus creating a better catalog of apps and customer experience."

So why is Android winning then? There are two reasons. First, as Lim Shiyang, an ABI research associate stated, "Android's open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores. These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market."

That sounds good, but I think the real reason is that people are simply buying the more affordable Android devices. By ABI's numbers, "IPhone shipment growth in Q2 2011 slowed to 9% from 15% a quarter earlier. In contrast, Android smartphone shipments increased 36% in Q2 2011, compared to 20% in Q1. Android's install base now exceeds iOS by a factor of 2.4-to-1 worldwide; by 2016 this factor will grow to 3-to-1." In short, Android phones are out-selling iPhones, and so, as the Android hardware market grows ever larger, so does Android software sales.

Combined, according to Download.com's numbers, mobile software downloads have already left Windows downloads in the dust. Using ABI's data, this trend seems certain to continue. According to ABI, "Global app downloads for year-end 2011 are expected to balloon to 29 billion, compared to only nine billion in 2010. Such stellar increases are largely due to the proliferation of smartphones around the world. The total smartphone install base is expected to grow 46% in 2011."

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