Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system vaulted over Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform in market share downloads by a count of 44 percent to 31 percent, according to research released by ABI Research Oct. 24.
The statistic may be surprising at first blush, considering that Apple has more than 500,000 applications in its vaunted iTunes App Store, compared to more than 300,000 for Google's Android Market.
However, Google with Android is practicing a death-by-1,000-tiny-cuts scenario versus Apple. As Google CEO Larry Page noted on the company's third-quarter conference call Oct. 13, more than 190 million Android smartphones and tablets have been activated worldwide.
With 130 million iPhones and 32 million-plus iPads shipped, Apple hasn't been a slouch either. Still, Android devices continue to outnumber iOS devices.
According to ABI's number-crunching, iPhone shipment growth in the second quarter slowed to 9 percent from 15 percent a quarter earlier, while Android smartphone shipments increased 36 percent in Q2 2011, from 20 percent in Q1. Android's install base now exceeds iOS by a factor of 2.4-to-1 worldwide.
It also helps more and more of the 300-plus Android smartphones available are 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) enabled and incorporate dual-core processors. This means devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Droid Bionic facilitate faster application downloads.
Just as Google has shown that faster Web search leads to more searches, it's likely that faster app downloads means consumers will put more apps on their phones and tablets.
Thanks to the increase in app download speeds and the proliferation of smartphones worldwide, global app downloads for 2011 will grow to 29 billion, compared to only nine billion in 2010, said ABI.
However, it seems as though Android is still winning with quantity over quality. ABI said that while Android took the lead in mobile app downloads, Apple's app downloads per user bested Android by a ratio of 2 to 1.
"Apple's superior monetization policies attracted good developers within its ranks, thus creating a better catalog of apps and customer experience," reasoned ABI analyst Dan Shey.
Google's Android team continues to work to improve its Android Market experience, adding more carrier billing and better app download transparency tools to provide developers some insight into how their work is faring in the store.
It remains to be seen whether Google can match Apple's consumer app store experience.