App developers may start targeting Google's Android platform ahead of Apple's iOS platform, says ABI Research.
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Smartphone owners are expected to download about 56 billion applications this year, reports ABI Research. The lion's share of those apps will head to Android devices, with Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry trailing Google.
Of the 56 billion app downloads, approximately 32.5 billion, or 58% of them, will go to Android smartphones. Apple iPhone owners will download 18.5 billion apps, representing about 33% of the 56 billion total. That means 88 out of every 100 apps downloaded in 2013 will come from the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.
Considering that Android and iOS together account for nine out of every 10 smartphones sold, these figures line up nicely. Similarly, Microsoft and BlackBerry's shares of the overall app market will reflect their respective share of the smartphone market.
ABI expects Windows Phone owners to download 2.25 billion apps, making up just 4% of the total app market. Blackberry smartphone owners are expected to download about 1.7 billion apps, or 3% of the total app market.
The app market for tablets, however, looks a bit different. ABI believes tablet owners will download about 14 billion apps throughout 2013. The Apple iPad will crush every other tablet in terms of app downloads. iPad apps will amount to 75%, or 10.5 billion, of the tablet app downloads this year. Google's Android tablet share is a distant second, with 17%, or 2.4 billion, of the tablet app downloads this year.
ABI accounts for Amazon Kindle Fire apps separately. About 4% of the apps downloaded to tablets this year, or about 560 million, will go to the Kindle Fire. As expected, Microsoft's share of the tablet app market will be laughable at about 2%, or 280 million.
Given the significant lead that Google's Android platform has built over Apple's iOS platform (at least as far as smartphones are concerned), ABI believes some developers may switch which platform they target first.
"Arguably the most pressing issue for Google is how much of this handset momentum will ultimately trickle down to tablets, where Apple is holding the fort remarkably well," remarked senior analyst Aapo Markkanen. "We would argue that in this context Google will actually benefit from the efforts by Amazon, since the presence of Kindle Fire adds a lot of critical 'code mass' to Android's proposition as a platform for tablet applications. It is worth remembering that Android's so-called fragmentation problem isn't only a problem, but that it has a certain upside as well."
Google and its partners are working hard to catch up to Apple in the tablet market, but Apple's tablet remains ahead of Google's Android platform. Google tablets have yet to reach the critical mass that the iPad and iPad Mini enjoy. Though some developers may choose to develop for Android first, it will likely be those that primarily target smartphones and not tablets. The iPad has developers' ear at the moment as far as tablets go, and will for the foreseeable future.
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