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Report: Surge in iPhone app development due to iPad

New iPhone OS application starts rose to unprecedented levels in January, says research firm Flurry. Android had been closing the gap, but the introduction of the iPad changed that.

If the iPad's early success could be measured by the number of new applications that will support the platform, it should do just fine, according to a new report from research company Flurry.

Flurry is an analytics company for mobile-app developers, helping to track industry trends. Based on the number of developers that have integrated Flurry's tracking code into their apps, the latest shift in the market shows new application starts for the iPhone surged in January, reaching unprecedented levels.

According to the data, January's iPhone application starts almost tripled those recorded for December. This, says Flurry, is the largest spike in its tracking history on any mobile platform, with over 1,600 app starts.

Google's Android mobile platform was closing the gap on Apple's iPhone OS, but the renewed interest in developing apps for the iPhone OS, pulled Apple into the lead again. Flurry said the reason for the surge is clear: it's the iPad.

"While Android's steady new application growth over the second half of 2009 closed the gap against the iPhone, reaching as many as one out of every three new applications starts within Flurry for December, the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple's favor to a level not seen at Flurry in six months," according to Peter Farago. "The unprecedented surge in support for iPad is a positive early indicator for its commercial potential."

Although Apple officially introduced the iPad on January 27, some developers likely didn't wait until then to start working on new apps for the long-rumored tablet.

"Historically, Flurry has measured surges in new application starts within its system in anticipation of new device launches, including for the Motorola Droid and iPhone 3GS," Farago wrote. "As such, we hypothesize that excitement generated by Apple's iPad event in January is driving this growth."

While the tablet uses the same operating system as Apple's popular smartphone, the iPad is much larger. Apple has positioned the device between a Netbook and the iPhone. With a 9.7-inch screen, the iPad comes with either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G. Priced at $499 to $829 depending on the model, the iPad will be available as early as next month.