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Android Takes Quantity, Apple Quality in the Mobile Apps Department

by Dave Coates

Change might just be afoot in the world of smartphone apps: new data from market research and intelligence firm ABI Research suggests that the number of mobile apps downloaded through Google’s Android platform has greatly outstripped those from Apple’s iOS App Store.

The news comes just a few days after advance copies of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs included accounts of Jobs’ animosity with former Google CEO and Apple board member Eric Schmidt, who he contended had stolen many of the iPhone’s key features for use on the Android platform. At the time Jobs had said, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” and later, in a meeting with Schmidt intended to patch up relations: “If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

The study showed that during the June quarter of this year Android took 44% of total mobile downloads compared to iOS’s 31% share. On of the researchers, Lim Shiyang, said the study showed that “being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores. These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market.”

It’s not all bad news for the Apple crowd though. The study also found that “Despite leading in total mobile application downloads, Android’s app downloads per user still lag behind Apple’s by 2-to-1. Apple’s superior monetization policies attracted good developers within its ranks, thus creating a better catalog of apps and customer experience.” So even though Android users can enjoy a vast range of free, user-built applications, we are all still getting what we pay for.

There will be an estimated 29 billion downloaded apps by the end of 2011, up from around 9 billion last year. Even more astonishingly, Angry Birds is making the leap (I refuse to manufacture a pun here, this is serious business) into a feature length film so that the smartphone crowd – i.e. all of your friends – can play Angry Birds once they get bored of watching Angry Birds. We are down the rabbit hole here, people.

Do you own an iSomething or an Android? Or even a smartphone made by someone who isn’t a gigantic corporate megalith? Giz your two cents in the comments.

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