A new study from the marketing firm ABI Research indicates that Android has overtaken iOS in total Global mobile app downloads. Interestingly, this study was actually for the second quarter of this year, and doesn't offer any data for the just past Q3. According to the study, mobile app downloads to the Android OS rose to 44%, while Apple held on to 31%. ABI researcher Lim Shiyang, said, ”Android’s open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores. These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market.”

The research report also indicated that much of this growth can be attributed to rapidly increased shipments of Android devices during the second quarter. Here's a quote from the BGR article with the details,
Shipments of iOS devices grew just 9% between April and June compared to 15% in the first quarter, while global shipments of Android devices grew 36% in the June quarter compared to 20% a quarter earlier.
Here is the full press release,
Android Overtakes Apple with 44% Worldwide Share of Mobile App Downloads

SINGAPORE – October 24, 2011

In Q2 2011, Android overtook iOS to become the market share leader in mobile application downloads. The market shares of Android and iOS were 44% and 31%, respectively.

“Android’s open source strategy is the main factor for its success,” says Lim Shiyang, research associate. “Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores. These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market.”

Recent quarterly shipment growth figures also explain Android’s ascent to the top app download position. iPhone shipment growth in Q2 2011 slowed to 9% from 15% a quarter earlier. In contrast, Android smartphone shipments increased 36% in Q2 2011, compared to 20% in Q1. Android’s install base now exceeds iOS by a factor of 2.4-to-1 worldwide; by 2016 this factor will grow to 3-to-1.

“Despite leading in total mobile application downloads, Android’s app downloads per user still lag behind Apple’s by 2-to-1,” adds Dan Shey, practice director, mobile services. “Apple’s superior monetization policies attracted good developers within its ranks, thus creating a better catalog of apps and customer experience.”

Global app downloads for year-end 2011 are expected to balloon to 29 billion, compared to only nine billion in 2010. Such stellar increases are largely due to the proliferation of smartphones around the world. The total smartphone install base is expected to grow 46% in 2011.

ABI Research’s “Mobile Applications Market Data” tracks mobile application downloads and revenues segmented by mobile operating system platform. The database includes historical data and forecasts for application downloads for all major mobile OSs. It also provides mobile application revenue forecasts and an overview of the major mobile application storefronts.

This study is a part of the firm’s Mobile Applications Research Service.
Source: BGR