Though more online stores have been crowding the mobile app market, Apple remains by far the app-store leader, according to data out today from IHS, which recently acquired technology researcher iSuppli.
For 2010, Apple took in $1.78 billion in worldwide sales from its App Store, a leap of 132 percent from $769 million in 2009. And while it lost market share to some of its mobile rivals, Apple still captured 82.7 percent of the app store market last year, down from 92.8 percent the prior year.
One factor that boosted Apple's mobile app sales in 2010 was the debut of the iPad. Although iPhone users still outnumber those who own Apple's popular tablet, iPad apps on average cost more than those designed for the iPhone, contributing a healthy percentage of sales. By 2014, about 50 percent of Apple's App Store sales in the U.S. will come from the iPad, compared to just under 20 percent last year, forecasts IHS.
"In terms of mobile application stores, Apple remains far ahead of the competition, with the other stores so far unable to replicate Apple's success in generating revenue from users," Jack Kent, an IHS mobile media analyst, said in a statement. "Apple, in contrast, has been able to maintain advantage by leveraging its tightly controlled ecosystem--combining compelling hardware and content with the capability to offer consumers a trusted, integrated, and simple billing service via iTunes."
Despite Apple's dominance, other app stores were able to make a dent in the market last year.
Though still in fourth place behind Research In Motion's BlackBerry App World and Nokia's Ovi Store, Google's Android Market saw the greatest surge in revenue growth. Sales for the Android Market rose 861.5 percent last year, giving Google a 4.7 percent cut of the market, up from just 1.3 percent in 2009.
In third place, the Ovi Store also witnessed strong sales growth, with revenue increasing by 719.4 percent to give it a 4.9 percent share of the mobile app market. BlackBerry App World hung onto its Number 2 spot with revenue rising by 360.3 percent last year, boosting its market share to 7.7 percent from 4.3 percent in 2009.
Overall sales in the mobile app store market climbed by 160.2 percent last year to reach $2.2 billion, up from $828 million in 2009. Games proved to be the most popular type of app, responsible for 52.2 percent of all mobile app store sales in 2010.
Looking forward, IHS expects the global market for mobile apps to rise by another 81.5 percent this year, reaching $3.9 billion in total sales. The Android Market and other rival stores are likely to further slice away at Apple's leading share, but the iPhone maker will still take home at least half of all sales generated from the app store market through 2014.