Almost eight billion app downloads in 2010, says ABI Research...
Mobile app downloads continue to soar - with mobile users downloading nearly eight billion apps in 2010, according to ABI Research.
Apple remains the dominant player by far, with app downloads from its iTunes App Store accounting for 5.6 billion of the 7.9 billion total downloads, ABI estimates. Those figures put Apple's share of the app download market in 2010 at about 71 per cent.
However, the analyst says the iPhone and iPad maker is set to face more intensive competition this year - not least because the closed model of its iTunes App Store is leaving room for other platform app stores to step up and focus on non-Apple mobile users.
Quarterly shipments of smartphones running Google's Android operating system now exceed Apple's shipments, notes the analyst, while cumulative downloads from both the Android Market app store and third-party platforms exceeded 1.9 billion by the end of 2010. This equates to almost a quarter, 24 per cent, of the total downloads.
Apple's App Store now has more than 350,000 apps on it and is available in 90 countries, according to Apple, while the Android Market has more than 130,000 apps and is available in 48 countries, says ABI.
The analyst also notes Blackberry maker RIM has been extending its BlackBerry App World app store - with the store now available in more than 100 markets. BlackBerry app downloads totalled more than one billion as of December 2010, according to ABI estimates - or about 13 per cent of the total app download market.
The analyst also notes that more mobile operators are considering jumping into the mobile app market, joining those that already have, such as Orange with its Application Shop and most recently Indian operator Idea Cellular with its Online Application Store.
Mobile operators are also banding together to try and erode Apple's app dominance via the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) initiative, announced in February last year.
The WAC aims to develop a single standard for developers, which will allow them to create apps once and port them to any number of mobile devices, and even between fixed and mobile devices.
At this year's Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Telefonica announced a WAC-complaint project code-named Frigo in which the operator is working with developers to port Android, Java, Symbian and Windows Mobile apps between mobile platforms and to other devices such as TVs and laptops. The service is due for a commercial launch in seven countries before the summer.
The mobile app store landscape also includes independent, multiplatform app store GetJar - a one-stop download shop stocking software for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and other mobile platforms.
The site, which was founded in 2004, has racked up more than 1.5 billion downloads to date and recently raised £25m in a third round of funding. GetJar says it plans to "aggressively expand its offering to Android publishers".