UPDATED: Android to dominate smartphone app downloads in 2013

Alex Walls
March 6, 2013

Android will account for more than half the smartphone application downloads in 2013.

This is according to forecasts by ABI Research and its Mobile Applications Research Service, which found that annual app downloads would reach 56 billion this year.

Apple’s mobile operating system iOS would account for 33% of app downloads and  Microsoft’s mobile operating system Windows Phone would slightly less than 4% of download.  BlackBerry would trail at 3%.

iPad remains king of tablets

Mobile users would download about 14 billion tablet apps during the year, ABI Research said.

Apple’s iPad would retain its lead as a development platform with three quarters, or 75%, of the total apps running on iOS.

Android, excluding the Kindle Fire, would account for 17% while downloads to Amazon’s tablets would account for 4%.

Just two percent of the total would be for Windows tablets, ABI Research said.

Android-first apps

With a big installation base and improved conditions for app building, ABI Research expected a growing number of smartphone-focused developers to adopt an Android-first strategy this year, ABI Research said.

Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen said arguably the most pressing issue for Google was how much of the handset success would trickle down to tablets, where Apple was holding its ground.

“We would argue that in this context Google will actually benefit from the efforts by Amazon, since the presence of Kindle Fire adds a lot of critical ‘code mass’ to Android’s proposition as a platform for tablet applications. It is worth remembering that Android’s so-called fragmentation problem isn’t only a problem, but that it has a certain upside as well.”

ABI Research said Mr Markkanen was not available to comment on this shift to Android-first apps.


ABI Research uses proprietary data on device shipments which formed the basis for a forecast, it said, broken down by operating system and region. These figures equalled the addressable market for mobile apps, the first pillar of the forecast, ABI Research said.

An analyst then estimated the average number of apps the subscribers of each OS downloads per year, based on a combination of ABI Research’s previous survey data, data published in the trade press, research interviews and briefings with subject matter experts,   and the analyst’s own knowledge base, ABI Research said.

The estimates were revised for every year of the forecasting period, based on assumptions about how the demographics of the given OS user base would evolve, as well as the level of content availability in the region’s key markets, the company said. Toward the end of the forecasting period, the expected migration from native apps to HTML5-based mobile websites, in certain content categories, is taken into consideration, the second pillar of the forecast.

Alongside the forecasts, ABI Research also tracks the cumulative download count on a quarterly basis.

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