Whether or not it’s true, when it comes to the mobile app industry we tend to think of Apple as king, firmly ahead of its competitors by every measurable standard. Apple’s product releases tend to generate an inordinate amount of press, the tragic and premature passing of its legendary CEO elicited mourning on a global scale, and some Apple customers are willing to camp out weeks in advance in order to be able to purchase its Next Big Thing. Apple’s even gone so far as to sue for ownership of the phrase “app store.”
If recent reports are accurate, however, it seems Android is beginning to overtake its competitor in both hardware and software. The flow of Android apps into the market reminds us of the early summer flows of the mighty Animas River in our home base of Southwest Colorado. Of course, in the aggregate Android devices have outsold iPhones for some time now, simply because they benefitted from both a greater number of manufacturers and a greater number of mobile providers willing to host them. As of April 2010, Google Android devices held a 33 percent market share to Apple’s 25. A more recent report, conducted by Strategy Analytics, looked at one manufacturer of Android devices and reported that Samsung knocked the iPhone out of the top spot all by itself. There is the possibility that those numbers may vary, as the study calculates the number of Samsung units shipped versus the number of iPhones sold to customers, but it’s clear that Android devices are more popular than ever.
Android apps are more popular than ever as well, as it happens. According to a recent study conducted by ABI research, Android now has the lead in total mobile app downloads, with a commanding margin of 44% to 31%. ABI attributes Android’s explosive growth to its open source strategy, “which has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores.” While Apple still maintains a comfortable lead in per-user downloads due to its superior monetization models, the fact that Android is making significant inroads into the app market bodes well for the future of Android app developers and users.
In any case, ABI predicts that global app consumption will reach a staggering 29 billion in 2011, compared to “only” 9 billion in 2010. The world population just passed 7 billion – ABI’s numbers means there will be more than 4 apps for every human on the globe. There’s never been a better time to get a quality mobile app on the market.