The mobile app boom is showing no signs of slowing, as Apple today announced that its App Store for iPhone and iPad apps had hit 15 billion downloads.
How much of an increase is this? Well consider that Apple announced this past January that the App Store had served over 10 billion downloads just 2.5 years since its launch in July 2008. In other words, the App Store is on pace this year to nearly match the total number of downloads that it delivered in its first 2.5 years of existence. If the App Store were to hit 10 billion downloads this year alone, it would mark more than a six-fold increase from the 1.5 billion apps that users downloaded from the store in its first year of existence.
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Needless to say, Apple's ecstatic press release today was filled with all sorts of testimonies from app developers who raved about the App Store's "magical" qualities. For instance Dr. Ge Wang, whose company Smule is responsible for developing mobile apps that simulate music instruments, gushed that the iPhone and iPad had added an element of high-tech coolness to classical music.
"We sparked music magic when iPhone users experienced [Smule mobile application] Ocarina three years ago," he says. "And now with the iPad, we've created the Magic Piano and Magic Fiddle apps. Who could've dreamt an iPad would make its way into the San Francisco Symphony?"
Nicholas Callaway, the CEO of mobile book and magazine publisher Callaway Digital Arts, enthused that "we're bringing Martha Stewart, Angelina Ballerina, Sesame Street and many more of the world's most popular books and magazines to the iPad... we knew the iPad was going to be a revolutionary storytelling device but never could have anticipated it would become so popular so quickly."
Apple's main rival in the mobile application store world, the Google Android Market, reportedly hit the 4.5 billion download mark late last month, a far cry from the 15 billion downloads proudly touted by Apple today. This is particularly notable because Apple's App Store had a head start of a few months ahead of the Android Market, which first came online in October 2008. It should be noted, though, that while the Android Market was up and running in late 2008, Android didn't really take off as an operating system until 2010 when popular devices such as the Motorola Droid and the HTC Evo 4G made Android a household name.
Mobile applications have become an increasingly popular feature of smartphones over the past couple of years, especially with the high-profile launches of application shopping centers such as the App Store and Android Market. Survey data released late last year from research firm ChangeWave showed that 14% of smartphone users said that applications were what they liked best about new smartphones, followed by ease of use (12%) and Internet access (12%). Corporate e-mail access, which has long been RIM's bread-and-butter application, was considered the most important feature by 10% of users, the survey showed. Games have proven to be the most popular mobile application, as data released this week from Nielsen showed that 64% of mobile phone users have used their device to play a game within the last month.