Late in October, analytics firm ABI estimated that Google's Android OS was responsible for 44 percent of all mobile app downloads, compared to 31 percent on Apple's iOS. The news was greeted as further evidence of Android's increasing popularity – approximately 550,000 Android phones are activated every day – and as a blow to Apple, the creator of the first widely successful mobile app marketplace.
This week, Google announced that its Android Market, the online app store launched in the fall of 2008, had topped 10 billion downloads, and was growing at a rate of 1 billion downloads a month.
"One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing," Google's Eric Chu wrote on the Android blog. "This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads – with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month. We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012."
Big numbers, obviously. But how does the ascendant Android Market stack up against Apple's App Store? Well, the App Store hit the 10 billionth download mark in January of this year, two and a half years after its July 2008 launch. So both Android Market and Apple's App store have logged 10 billion downloads since 2008. But as Ryan Kim of GigaOm notes, the momentum is certainly with Google.
"The Android Market didn’t pass the 1 billion download mark until July 2010, almost two years after it launched in October 2008," Kim writes. "But growth has been particularly robust this year, going from 3 billion in March to 10 billion now." In other words, if Apple's App Store has accumulated downloads at a slow and steady rate, Google's Android Market has barreled to its current peak, at hundreds of new downloads per hour.
Not convinced? Check out this Android Market growth chart, provided by Google. It's basically a sheer cliff.