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36 billion apps downloaded this year

But average 37 per smartphone set to drop

36 billion smartphone apps will be downloaded in 2012, resulting in an average 37 native apps a year per smartphone owner.

The forecast by ABI Research reflects a nearly 6 percent global increase to the 35 apps downloaded per smartphone subscriber on average in 2011.

Despite the increase against 2011, ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen believes the average download count will not increase substantially over the coming years.

A major factor contributing to the downward trend in average app downloads is the evolution of mobile web.

The decision by the Financial Times to pull the plug on its iOS app and bet instead on HTML5 can be seen as a hint of what is to come next.

In many app categories, like games and most utilities, the web will probably never catch up with the native app opportunity in terms of user experience, but at the same time there are also some popular areas where it can be anticipated to come rather close.

According to Markkanen, “News and magazine apps are a segment where the momentum is likely to shift towards the web within the next two to three years.

“Since news and media content already account for a large share of smartphone usage and are likely to play an even bigger role in later adopters’ usage, changes in this segment alone will make subscribers on average download fewer native apps.”


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