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Exploring Smartphone and Tablet Apps Growth in 2013

This year will provide an incremental lift for the savvy independent software developers that create apps mobile device users will crave. For the most successful developers, the upside opportunities for revenue growth is significant.

The market continues to expand, with few signs of app saturation. The annual volume of smartphone app downloads will reach 56 billion in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

When comparing the performance of smartphone operating system (OS) platforms, ABI discovered that Google Android will account for 58 percent of the total, with Apple iOS commanding an annual share of 33 percent.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone will finish the year with a thin slice that reached less than than 4 percent, with BlackBerry trailing it with just 3 percent market share.

In the meantime, ABI forecasts that mobile users will download around 14 billion media tablet apps during this year.

In the tablet segment, ABS believes that the Apple iPad lead -- as a development platform -- remains formidable, as 75 percent of the market will be apps running on iOS.

For comparison, Android will represent an annual share of 17 percent -- that's excluding Kindle Fire. Downloads to Amazon’s tablets equate to a market share of 4 percent, while just 2 percent of the total will be for Windows tablets.

With its vast installed base and the generally improved conditions for app building, ABI Research expects a growing number of smartphone-focused developers to adopt an Android-first strategy within the year.

"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," said Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research.

ABI says they 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 the Android value proposition as a platform for tablet applications.

It is worth remembering that Android’s so-called fragmentation challenge isn’t only a problem, but that it has a certain upside benefit as well.

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