Apple Ranked as Top Mobile App Storefront

Apple placed first for implementation, ahead of Google and BlackBerry maker RIM, thanks to its large market share in the app industry.

The world’s leading app distributors, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, were ranked by two dimensions, implementation and innovation in ABI Research’s Competitive Assessment of mobile application storefronts, with Apple taking the top spot, followed by Google and Microsoft in third place.

Apple placed first for implementation, ahead of Google and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), thanks to its large market share over the app industry, the ability to achieve a large inventory of titles while maintaining a reasonably strict quality control and its effective approach to monetization.

On the innovation front, however, ABI Research said it was particularly impressed by Microsoft’s fresh approach to app discovery, as well as Windows Phone store’s overall solid usability, which gave it a narrow edge over Apple in the firm’s report. The study noted discovery is particularly important as it presents to the consumer the app store’s inventory and helps the user find the app they are looking for.

“Although Apple has done a great job capitalizing on App Store’s head start as an app distributor, it should really start re-thinking the way it charts the top apps. Microsoft should be lauded for its initiative to extend its ranking algorithm beyond raw download figures, by including factors that can actually measure the customer satisfaction and retention,” ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen said in a statement. “Retention-based charts are less prone to manipulation, so as an additional plus Microsoft can also afford being more transparent about its approach. Moves like this can help break the developers free from the ‘tyranny of downloads,’ decrease their reliance on costly marketing campaigns, and thus lower the barriers to entry.”

Along with this week’s report on application storefronts, ABI also released a report on the proliferation of cameras in smartphones and tablets. The company projected one billion cameras were shipped in smartphones and tablets in 2012, including devices that include rear-facing and front-facing cameras.

According to ABI’s latest study on imaging technology in mobile devices, 2.7 billion cameras in mobile devices are predicted to ship in 2018, with smartphones accounting for the majority of camera shipments, at 80 percent of the volume.

“Advancements in imaging technology are opening new doors for smartphones and media tablets,” ABI senior analyst Josh Flood said in a statement. “Mobile device cameras are becoming more than just a digital camera for taking snapshots of your kids and pet. New services like augmented reality and gesture recognition are now easily conceivable in mobile devices.”