It’s no surprise that iPad users have just reached the three billion mark in app downloads from the App Store since launching in April 2010. It is, after all the most phenomenal success in the Apple product stable. According to ABI Research, it took the iPhone two years to hit the same level of app downloads that only took iPad only a year and a half to do so. The market research also disclosed that Android tablet users have downloaded about 440- million apps during the same period, less than a 6th of the iPad downloads.
This gaping disparities in downloads clearly points to iPad’s overwhelming dominance in the tablet markets where its rivals from Samsung, RIM, HP and Android –run tablets, to mention some, all but abandoned the idea of competing with iPad and are now happy to just slug it out for a very distant second place. The fact that as of 3rd quarter of 2011, the App Store has a significantly larger library of more than 122,000 apps specific to the tablet also accounts for the yawning disparity.
According to ABI analyst Lim Shiyang, “Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings.”
The contrast couldn’t be starker. An NPD study for the three quarters from January to October period revealed that non-Apple tablets registered a total of 1.2 million units shipped and presumably sold. In comparison, the Apple shipped and presumably sold 11.1 million iPads in just one quarter alone.
Admittedly, Android tablets are just starting to be rolled out. The NPD study excluded Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which was a popular gift during the recent holiday season. Moreover, the upgrade to the new Android 4.0 or better known as Ice Cream Sandwich which unifies its smartphone and tablet platform for seamless interoperability just might push Android sales. The OS upgrade allows apps to run on both smartphones and tablets.
In the same way that Android smartphone sales have overtaken iPhone sales in the US, ABI expects Android tablets to eventually surpass the iPad with app downloads than can run on its smartphone and tablet platforms. The research group anticipates that by 2016, annual app downloads for Android smartphones will reach 58 billion, while downloads for the iPhone will settle at 27 billion.