As of yesterday, the iPad has been on the market for 21 months and in that relatively short amount of time, iPad users managed to pass three billion app downloads, according to ABI Research. Apple iPhone users took two years to accomplish such a feat, yet the iPad already accounts for 19 percent of all app downloads on Apple devices. The demand for apps is stronger than ever.
Meanwhile, this high demand for apps is much less apparent on Android tablets. So far, Android tablet owners have downloaded only 440 million apps and Honeycomb-powered devices have been available for almost a year now. Poor hardware sales have led developers to stray away from making tablet apps for Android. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing: the lack of Honeycomb users mean developers didn’t want to create apps but the lack of apps meant consumers didn’t want to buy these.
Lim Shiyang, a researcher at ABI Research, blames Android fragmentation for its slow app download rate:
“Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings. Many Android tablets in the market are still using older versions of Android, which disadvantages users from enjoying the better effects of apps produced from more advanced software development kits.”
Moving forward, two major product launches will push the numbers for app downloads even higher: Android Ice Cream Sandwich and the iPad 3. Ice Cream Sandwich is already getting warm reception after its debut on the Galaxy Nexus and it will soon start making its way onto mainstream tablets. For Google and manufacturers’ sake, let’s hope it gives tablet sales a boost.
As for the iPad 3, I’m going out on a limb to make a prediction that the third-generation iPad will be the one to truly make “tablet” a household name. Consumers are going to snatch these up with little regard to the significance of its upgrades from the iPad 2.
The two opposing forces will work together in 2012 to let app downloads skyrocket.