Android Will Dominate Smartphone Apps, But Can It Take Tablets?

Google Android apps will account for 58 percent of the total apps downloaded in 2013, according to a new estimate from ABI Research—well ahead of Apple’s iOS at 33 percent and Windows Phone at 4 percent. All told, smartphone users will download around 56 billion apps this year, not bad for a market that didn’t even exist until very recently.

But while Android dominates the market for smartphone apps (at least in terms of downloads), Apple should continue to hold a comfortable lead in tablets, with ABI Research estimating iOS apps at 75 percent of total downloads—well ahead of Android at 17 percent, excluding Amazon’s Kindle Fire (which accounts for 4 percent on its own). Roughly 2 percent of apps will be downloaded to Windows tablets: not exactly the greatest news for Microsoft, which is betting big that Windows 8 on touch-screens will seize a healthy portion of the market over the next few years.

“Arguably the most pressing issue for Google is how much of this handset momentum will ultimately trickle down to tablets, where Apple is holding the fort remarkably well,” ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “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.”

Markkanen added: “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.”

While many of the most popular apps are consumer-focused, there’s also rising interest among businesses to build apps for workers’ smartphones and tablets. A recent research note from Gartner suggested that more and more enterprises will adopt company-specific app stores over the next five years, with that adoption driven in large part by an increasing number of mobile devices in the hands of employees. By 2017, Gartner predicted, some 25 percent of enterprises will have a specialized app store.

Chances are pretty good a fair number of those enterprise-specific apps will be written for Android.


Image: Peshkova/