Ovum: Mobile app downloads to grow 144% this year, top 18B

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Mobile application downloads worldwide are on pace to grow 144 percent this year, with total downloads set to eclipse 18 billion by the end of 2011--up from 7.4 billion a year earlier--according to a new forecast issued by telecoms analyst Ovum. At the current rate of growth, downloads will exceed 45 billion by 2016, the firm adds.

Premium mobile app download revenues are set to reach $3.7 billion by the end of this year, a 92 percent year-over-year increase, Ovum projects. By 2016, revenues are expected to top $7.7 billion.

Although Ovum expects Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform will continue to lead Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival Android in respect to paid app revenues, reaching $2.86 billion in 2016 compared to $1.5 billion for Android, the forecast states total Android app downloads will surpass iOS installs this year by a margin of 8.1 billion to 6 billion.

Just last year, iOS app downloads nearly doubled Android downloads at 2.7 billion to 1.4 billion, respectively. By 2016, Android downloads are expected to reach 21.8 billion, compared to 11.6 billion for iOS: "The huge lead in downloads that Android will take on Apple is being driven by the growth of the platform as a result of its increasing popularity and progress into lower price points," said Ovum devices analyst Nick Dillon in a statement.

Dillon expects that despite the emerging threat posed by HTML5 web standards, app stores will remain the primary vehicle for consumer access to mobile content. "App stores offer a familiar environment for consumer to discover, download and purchase apps, and we anticipate that the majority of app stores will list a mix of both HTML5 and native applications in their catalogues in the future," he said.

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