ABI: With 58% Market Share, Android Will Top iOS In Smartphone App Downloads This Year, But Apple Will Win On Tablets

There are a number of ways to measure a mobile platform’s relative success, but if you’re looking at the number of mobile app downloads as the metric of choice, then the analysts at ABI Research have just predicted that Android will win it in 2013. According to the firm’s latest forecasts, 58 percent of smartphone app downloads this year will be Android apps, while iOS will come in at just 33 percent. But those numbers look very different when you include tablet app downloads in the forecast.

ABI says that smartphone apps will be downloaded 56 billion times in 2013, and the majority of these will be either iOS or Android-based, reflecting the duopoly that still has the majority of smartphone market share worldwide. Earlier this year, ABI said that Google’s Android platform would take a 57 percent share of the global smartphone market this year, with iOS grabbing just around 21 percent. Combined, that 78 percent chunk was notably down from the 92 percent figure that competitor Strategy Analytics’ pegged in Q4 2012, though, hinting that there may be a little room for second-tier players.

Though the numbers from rival houses tend to vary, what the firms can seem to agree on in general terms is that Android has a bigger piece of the overall smartphone market worldwide, and they’re expecting that trend to continue this year. Realistically, it’s probably too soon to call the numbers for 2013, given that China is still very much in play this year, as smartphone adoption is now surging in that country. Just this February, for example, China passed the U.S. to become the world’s top country for active Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. And Apple is certainly not ignoring China either, with CEO Tim Cook stating that China would become Apple’s most important market. There have been ongoing rumors of differently priced devices for China’s newest smartphone customers, and Apple recently added options that allow Chinese customers to buy Apple devices on credit.

That being said, Android’s traction in the low-cost smartphone space can’t be discounted, either. However, ABI also predicts that Android’s gains will encourage more developers to go the Android-first route this year, and that’s not as likely a conclusion. Though Android may see more raw downloads due to its market share figures, studies show that Apple is still the revenue leader when it comes to how developers are monetizing their applications both as paid apps, as well as through in-app purchases, upgrades and virtual goods. It’s hard for new developers to make money as it is, so they’re still gravitating towards the Apple App Store when it comes to their revenue-generation efforts.

ABI also says today that iOS has the lead in tablet app downloads – another reason why the Android-first predication seems a little shaky. Of the around 14 billion tablet apps it’s expecting in 2013, 75 percent will be for the iPad, with Android (excluding the Kindle Fire) accounting for just 17 percent. Amazon will see around 4 percent market share here, and Windows tablets will barely eke out 2 percent, the firm claims.