At the end of 2009 Apple dominated the market for smartphone applications with a 77% market share of all downloads and the highest number of applications. The competition level within the Apple App Store was such that developers began searching for alternative development and distribution platforms. The tendency to publish on multiple and alternative platforms has gained momentum in the first quarter of 2010.
Apple maintains a strong lead. In the first quarter of 2010 50,000 new apps were added to the store. That amounts to an impressive 550 new apps per day! The high frequency makes discoverability and differentiation of individual apps difficult, and with the long tail getting longer every day a multi-platform strategy is becoming more and more interesting for developers.
Android also saw considerable growth, in fact even though the increase in the number of apps in the store was only half that of Apple’s, the rate of growth on the Android store was an amazing 100%+ in the first quarter of 2010. At the end of 2009 there were 20,000 apps available in the Android Store, a number which has now more than doubled. Developers clearly see the potential of this platform, as more and more smartphone devices are being shipped with an Android operating system. Whereas at the end of 2009 we counted only 6 devices with Android operating systems, now just three months later more than 50 are commercially available. The rapid growth in the variety of devices will also mean that developers will face growing complexity in the optimization of applications to allow for usability on all devices.
BlackBerry claims that it concentrates on quality, not quantity. Also they are number two in the smartphone market. Their app store has not managed to attract as many apps as the Apple or Android stores which sell less smartphone devices, nevertheless they managed to increase their app numbers by almost 50% in only three months while maintaining their higher pricing level.
Symbian and mainly the Ovi Store are reporting high growth numbers in apps but still on a low level. As the number one smartphone platform one would expect much more interest from the developer community, but the fire has not yet ignited.
Windows Mobile seems to be in stagnation. Developers are waiting for Windows Mobile 7. Maybe that will help it to finally break through.
Palm had a very good start with developers loving the store, and the number of apps in their catalog doubling over the last few months. However, we see that the attractiveness and growth rate of Palm app downloads will slow down, as most of the new apps were developed in the last year, to be published in Q1 2010, when news was very positive about the new “iPhone Killer”. Now, with dramatically bad sales figures of the Palm Pre and the sale of Palm to HP, it is not clear how developers will react.. We are likely to see a deceleration in the growth in app numbers in Q2 2010.
Bada by Samsung has gained a lot of press over the last quarter. It offers a similar concept as Apple but not only for smartphones as we define them now. Until now Samsung was not a significant player in the app store market; however their feature phones have a significant market share in North America and Western Europe. According to Samsung’s announcements they expect to sell 50-100 million new smartphones this year. That is definitely a platform to watch out for in 2010.
Independent app stores seem to be much slower. For example, the giant GetJar just managed to collect 1,500 new apps,only 2% of its previous app numbers, whereas Mobango had 65% growth. Most MNO stores are really slow. It looks like people are keener on their preinstalled app stores, and do not bother to shop around.
Please note the latest updates in our App Store Comparison report, and respective PowerPoints slides, comprising the most recent data, including app store average prices, number of apps, devices and available countries as of April 2010.