Apple frequently touts the number of applications available to iOS users, which now sits north of 350,000. But that number could be in danger of coming in second place to rival Google in just a few months time.
In a new report by market research firm Distimo for the last month of activity on Apple's various App Stores, the BlackBerry App World, GetJar, Google's Android Market, Nokia's Ovi Store, Palm's App Catalog, and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, the group found Google and Microsoft's efforts to be growing the fastest.
"If all application stores maintain their current growth pace, approximately five months from now Google Android Market will be the largest store in terms of number of applications followed by the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, BlackBerry App World and Nokia Ovi Store," the firm said in its findings. "The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will also be larger than the Nokia Ovi Store and BlackBerry App World prior to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace being available for even a full year."
Distimo's research found that Google has already made headway on attacking Apple on the volume front, pushing past the App Store with 134,342 free applications versus the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch's 121,845 free applications. The firm estimates that Google will be 40,000 applications short of evening out with Apple's overall volume by the end of June, and will catch up completely in July.
Distimo notes that any growth estimates are gauged on the past three months of activity across the ecosystem, which "could easily accelerate or slow down."
Not included in that calculation are sales and app volume counted from Amazon's recently launched Appstore, which is not to be confused with Apple's "App Store" (as on-going litigation points out). Amazon launched its currently Android-only mobile application store near the end of last month, which would make it too late to included in this round of tracking. Amazon's store contains many of the same apps available on the Android Market, though could end up building up a library of exclusives over time.
Along with the volume tracking, Distimo's report released a year's findings about Apple's App Store for the iPad, which it says reached 75,755 applications at the end of March. Thirty percent of those applications are free, the firm said, with the average price for paid apps hitting $5.36.
Interestingly enough, that $5.36 number is up from the early days of the store, when the average was $4.34 per paid application. Distimo says the trend is unusual, since other application stores tend to have a lowering average price as app volumes get higher. "This is likely because the games category (which has generally had a high in-app purchase adoption rate) has lost some of its prominence to other categories," the report said.
Based on Distimo's data, books reign as the supreme category on the iPad as of the end of March, with 16,712 book applications. Games come a close second at 13,861 applications. From there it drops off to education, followed by entertainment and lifestyle applications. Worth a mention here is a separate study from forecast firm Simba released earlier today, which found that nearly 40 percent of iPad owners haven't used the device for reading e-books. Most said they used their computer as a primary reading device.