The pace of development in the Google ecosystem means that Apple is fast losing it's first-mover advantage in mobile, with sales of Android apps in the Google Play store booming in the fourth quarter of 2012, while the growth in sales of Apple apps has slowed.
According to Google, app sales doubled in the fourth quarter, while sales of Apple apps for iOS-based iPhones and iPads increased by 20 per cent.
The spike in sales of Android apps has been driven by sales of more high-end Android devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy SIII and the Google Nexus 7, which in turn has made users more comfortable purchasing Android apps.
Furthermore, Google claims that Android now offers a similar number of apps for Android users that Apple offers for iPhone and iPad users - around 700,000 for Android compared to 800,000 in the iOS app store, a gap that is closing fast.
Until recently, it had been assumed that Android apps would lag far behind iOS apps, but rising sales has persuaded app development houses to increasingly put new apps for the two platforms on a par, with some developers seeking to develop for Android first.
For example, Ngmoco has conventionally developed apps for Apple first, before porting them to Google. Now, it treats the two operating environments equally. And Google has ploughed resource into developer tools to make it easier for developers to build apps for Android.
However, with three-quarters of the smartphones now sold globally running on Android, and app developers now making 40 per cent of their income from the platform, the balance will soon tip in the direction of Android.
Microsoft, meanwhile, claims that 150,000 apps are available for Windows Phone, although it still lacks versions of popular apps available on the 'big two', while BlackBerry claims some 70,000 for its latest BlackBerry 10-based phones, which some users have complained either don't work or are very basic.
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