App downloads surge as Android outstrips Apple

The world’s smartphone users will download a total of 18 billion mobile apps during 2011, up 144 per cent from 7.4 billion in 2010, according to Ovum. The firm forecast that the number of downloads will grow to 45 billion in 2016.

While many of the apps downloaded by consumers are free of charge, revenues are increasing. Ovum expects app downloads to generate sales of $3.7bn this year, up 92 per cent on 2010, eventually hitting $7.7bn in 2016.

With the growing number of Android handsets available, Ovum predicts that Android Market downloads will outstrip downloads from Apple’s App Store for the first time in 2011. The firm expects Android downloads to hit 8.1 billion this year, compared to six billion for Apple.

“Consumers’ seemingly insatiable demand for mobile applications is set to continue this year,” said Ovum analyst Nick Dillon. “The outlook for the longer term is also positive with consumers set to continue to use apps to add new features to their phones and to access their favourite services on the go.”

The increasing popularity of smartphones has laid the foundations for the growth in app downloads. Figures from Gartner show that, with unit sales of 107.7 million, smartphones accounted for 25.13 per cent of total handset shipments in the first quarter of this year, up from 16.86 per cent for the first quarter of 2010.

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