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Google Leads App Downloads, Apple Cashes In

Smartphone owners downloaded 13.4 billion apps in the first quarter of 2013, with Google slightly outpacing Apple. But Apple grabbed 74% of the revenue.

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During the first quarter of 2013, the number of apps downloaded by smartphone owners jumped by 11% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. A total of 13.4 billion apps were downloaded across the four major app stores run by Apple, BlackBerry, Google and Microsoft. The revenue generated by those apps, reports Canalys, grew at a slightly slower pace of 9% when compared to the previous quarter. However, the total dollar figure generated by those app downloads amounts to a staggering $2.2 billion spent on mobile apps.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Apple and Google own the vast bulk of those downloads, with BlackBerry and Microsoft distant competitors at best. In total download volume, Google wins with 51%. Apple is not far behind Google. Canalys didn't provide a breakdown of the exact percentages owned by BlackBerry and Microsoft.

The Apple-Google duopoly isn't a duopoly, however, when you look at the revenue. Apple controls 74% of all app revenue. That means out of the $2.2 billion generated by app downloads during the first quarter of the year, Apple raked in $1.63 billion. If you consider the 70-30 split that Apple has with developers, Apple paid its developers approximately $1 billion and kept more than $600 million for itself.

With Apple controlling such a huge portion of the app ecosystem revenue, it's no wonder that many developers still write iOS apps first and Android apps second.

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Earlier this year, Apple said that iOS device owners had downloaded a cumulative total of 40 billion apps. It claims to have about 775,000 apps in the App Store. Google also claims to have about 775,000 apps in the Google Play Store. Meanwhile, Microsoft boasts of more than 135,000 apps and BlackBerry says it has more than 100,000 apps.

"Apps have had a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets," said Adam Daum, chief analyst of analytics for Canalys. "They are now central to how consumers engage with content and connected services, and how they personalize their devices around the app-enabled features that are important to them. This is a multi-billion-dollar growth market, with more and more consumers around the world now comfortable and confident in finding apps, downloading them and making in-app purchases, on a growing addressable base of smart phones and tablets."

Emerging markets, such as South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, posted the biggest growth numbers, as smartphones are still gaining strength in those regions. North America and Europe are seen as mature markets, but still posted moderate growth. North America, for example, saw revenue and download volumes increase by 8% and 6%, respectively.

What remains to be seen is whether BlackBerry or Microsoft can break down the Apple-Google duopoly with their respective platforms and app stores. Both have a long, long way to go.

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