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Apple's iPad tallies up 3 billion app downloads

By contrast, app downloads for Android tablets are still just a fraction of iPad totals, according to ABI Research.

Apple's iPad Apple

Apple iPad users have been pretty busy downloading apps.

Since the launch of the original iPad in April 2010, 3 billion apps have been downloaded for the hit tablet, ABI Research announced today. It took the iPhone two years to hit the 3B mark, ABI said, while it took the iPad just a year and a half. In contrast, the market researcher said, 440 million apps have been downloaded so far for Android tablets.

The disparity in downloads further illustrates the dominance that the iPad holds in the tablet market, where its rivals have fought one other for the position of distant second place. The difference is also largely due to the larger library of applications available on the iPad. As of the third quarter, there were 120,000 iPad-specific apps in the App Store, ABI said.

"Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings," said ABI analyst Lim Shiyang.

The contrast is stark. An NPD study showed sales of 1.2 million units of non-Apple tablets from January through October. Apple, in comparison, shipped 11.1 million iPads in the prior quarter alone.

Of course, the roll out of Android tablets is just getting started. The study didn't include Amazon's Kindle Fire, which has been a popular holiday gift. The move to Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, could also help tablet sales because the operating system is intended to allow apps to be simultaneously built for both the smartphone and tablet.

ABI expects Android app downloads to eventually overtake the iPad, just as Android smartphone sales have long surpassed the iPhone. Annual app downloads for Android smartphones are expected to hit 58 billion by 2016, compared with 27 billion for the iPhone.