Forecast: Windows Phone will drive just 2% of app downloads in 2012

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Although mobile subscribers will download nearly 36 billion applications this year, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone operating system will represent only 2 percent of installs this year according to a new forecast issued by ABI Research. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android will together drive 83 percent of app downloads this year, the firm adds.

ABI cautions that while Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry and Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Symbian currently lead Windows Phone, the Microsoft platform's future is still promising. ABI cites a number of factors currently limiting Windows Phone's app download growth, including its relatively small device market share, the slow international rollout of Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace storefront and limited in-app purchase options. Another challenge: The absence of Windows Phone-powered tablets. ABI contends that advances in any of these areas will have a positive impact on app consumption.

"One message we hear from many developers is that, purely technically speaking, Windows Phone is actually a rather appealing platform," said ABI Senior Analyst Aapo Markkanen. "And if it turns out to be a platform for relatively high-end devices, avoiding the fragmentation pitfalls of Android, it won't even need to achieve a remarkably large market share to attract a vibrant app scene. The arrival of the first Windows 8 tablets, as well as Windows Phone's upgrade to the Apollo iteration, should also give it a boost, since developers can reuse their code to launch on various screen sizes."

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