The app stores for the four leading mobile operating systems have grown 11% from the fourth quarter in 2012 to the first quarter of this year, according to data from Canalys. Combined downloads from Apple’s (AAPL) App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry World totaled more than 13.4 billion in Q1 2013, while revenue climbed 9% to reach $2.2 billion. App downloads remained strong in North America and Europe, however some of the strongest growth came from emerging markets such as South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, which have benefited from a fast adoption rate of smartphones and tablets. Paid apps continue to remain popular in more mature mobile markets, though.
“Apps have had a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets,” said Adam Daum, Canalys’ chief analyst. “They are now central to how consumers engage with content and connected services, and how they personalize their devices around the app-enabled features that are important to them.”
Apple’s App Store remained the largest and most profitable mobile marketplace, accounting for around 74% of revenue, while the Play Store saw the greatest number of downloads, edging out Apple for a 51% share.
“Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world,” said Tim Shepherd, a Canalys senior analyst. “In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored.”
The firm notes that the Apple-Google duopoly “creates certain challenges for app publishers, carriers, investors and device vendors,” which is why it believes a third ecosystem still has a chance to emerge as a true competitor.