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Analysts expect 8 billion app downloads for Apple this year, but more for Android

by Phil Hornshaw

Huge numbers of devices running on Google’s Android platform getting activated every day mean more Android apps will be downloaded this year than iOS apps, according to one mobile market analyst firm.

But that doesn’t mean that a huge number of apps won’t be downloaded for Apple’s iOS platform by the end of 2011. On the contrary, telecom analyst firm Ovum thinks that the total number of apps downloaded will leap from 7.4 billion in 2010 to a whopping 18 billion this year, the UK newspaper The Guardian is reporting. Of that 18 billion, Ovum pegs 8.1 billion downloads will go to Android devices, and another 6 billion downloads will wind up on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

This will be the first year that Android downloads have surpassed iOS downloads, but it’ll still be a banner year for both platforms. Last year, Apple marked 2.7 billion downloads, while Android accounted for 1.4 billion.

The reason for the big influx in Android downloads is the big influx of Android devices. Of all the smartphones sold in the second quarter of 2011, according to The Guardian, 46 percent were Android devices. In second place was Apple, accounting for another 20 percent of smartphones with its iPhone.

Ovum also predicts that the number of Android downloads is going to increase – a lot. By 2016, the firm expects the total number of downloads per year to shoot up by almost double to better than 32 billion, with 21.8 billion of those going to Android; more than double what Ovum expects Apple devices to account for, with 11.6 billion. Predictions from Ovum don’t end with Android and iOS devices, however. The firm puts Windows Phone 7 in third place by 2015, overtaking BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

Overall, though, while Ovum expects Android to pull down a whole lot of downloads, it still predicts that through 2016, Apple will lead in revenue generated from its App Store, with $2.86 billion rolling in from downloads, compared to $1.5 billion generated by Android downloads.

The app market will only get bigger, Ovum predicts, and by 2016 expects 45 billion total mobile downloads across all platforms. As a market, this year paid mobile apps will be worth $3.7 billion, Ovum expects. This is an increase of 92 percent over the $1.95 billion it earned last year, and by 2016 it will be worth $7.7 billion.