Apple's App Store is the biggest, but it's the only one of seven app stores that didn't post double-digit growth in 2011.
There are now one million apps for mobile devices available in the seven major app stores, though some of those are the same titles developed for different platforms. While Apple's App Store is the largest, it also posted the slowest growth. In fact, it was the only store not to at least double in size over the past year.
Distimo released its 2011 report on how the various marketplaces for smartphones and tablets shaped up. The app stores evaluated were: Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store for iPad, Apple App Store for iPhone, BlackBerry App World, Google Android Market, Nokia Ovi Store, and Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.
The Windows Phone Marketplace grew the most, increasing over 400% in the last 12 months. In the most important area, games, Microsoft's store is in fourth place behind the stores for the iPhone, Android, and iPad. Amazon's Appstore, launched this summer, is in fifth in terms of games. Games is the most popular category overall and generates the most downloads. There are 79,000 games available for the iPhone, which is larger than the total number of apps available in each of the Amazon, Nokia, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone stores.
One of the most interesting developments in 2011 is the rise of the freemium model. This model gives away apps for free, but in order to get more advanced features or additional content, the user has to pay a fee. Apple has the highest gross revenue from its application sales, but Android has the highest percentage of revenue from in-app purchases. Apple's in-app purchases generate just under half of the revenue for the App Store. With Android though, 65% of its revenue comes from the freemium model. Developers targeting Android should take note of that. It means creating apps that have the potential for extra content.
So what were the biggest apps of 2011? Angry Birds was at the top of the list, available in all markets except for BlackBerry's App World. Facebook came in second. I wonder if Facebook will continue to be a top-ranking app as operating system makers begin integrating it into the OS. The same can be said for Twitter, which is number 10 on the list. Platforms like iOS and Windows Phone have some level of integration with social networks, which may be enough for some people without downloading a full app.
Interestingly, the only platform you can download Google Maps on is Android, yet it is still the fifth most popular download. That is a testament to the sheer size of the Android market.
Yet, 2012 is sure to bring changes. Nokia's Ovi store is currently the fourth largest store overall, virtually tied with RIM's App World. Both are showing a slower growth curve in recent months. The Ovi Store will peak soon and start to decline, since Nokia is married to Windows Phone going forward. RIM's store will surely have some bumps in its growth as it moves to the BlackBerry 10 platform late in the year.
I don't expect much to change at the top though. Apple will continue to lead and Android will continue to close in on it, but it won't catch up, at least not in 2012.
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