36bn apps to be downloaded in 2012, 2pc will be Windows Phone

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Mobile users will download nearly 36bn apps in 2012 and Android and iOS will make up 83pc of the app downloads, while only 2pc can be attributed to Windows Phone, new research from ABI Research forecasts.

ABI Research’s study, ‘Mobile Applications Market Data‘, maintains there are four factors undermining Windows Phone’s app growth. First, the small device market share is the most obvious drag.

Second, Windows Marketplace’s global roll out has taken a long time, further limiting the number of potential customers.

Third, Microsoft has also been slow to enable in-app purchasing, meaning that most of the quality apps remain behind an up-front paywall. And fourth, there have been no tablets built on the platform. Advancement on any of these fronts will have a positive impact.

Microsoft is gaining momentum

Research associate Lim Shiyang says: "Although Windows Phone lags behind RIM’s BlackBerry and even Nokia’s Symbian, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the 2pc that we forecast for 2012 would be twice the share the platform achieved last year. Microsoft is gaining momentum, but its starting point is frustratingly low. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t really a chicken-and-egg problem of low device sales holding back the app business and the slow app business holding back the device sales. It’s more complicated than that."

ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen adds: "One message we hear from many developers is that, purely technically speaking, Windows Phone is actually a rather appealing platform. And if it turns out to be a platform for relatively high-end devices, avoiding the fragmentation pitfalls of Android, it won’t even need to achieve a remarkably large market share to attract a vibrant app scene. The arrival of the first Windows 8 tablets, as well as Windows Phone’s upgrade to the Apollo iteration, should also give it a boost, since developers can reuse their code to launch on various screen sizes."

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com