Rivals close gap to App Store

Apple finally started facing some real competition in the app store market in 2010, with its upstart rivals outpacing it by growth in percentage of apps offered, according to Distimo.
While the App Store grew the most in terms of volume of applications, doubling its total during the year to nearly 300,000, its competitors showed signs of catching up quickly in terms of developer support, an annual report from the app store analytics firm shows.
Android Market's volumes grew six fold to almost 130,000, while BlackBerry App World and Nokia's Ovi Store each showed triple digit growth to 18,000 and 25,000 apps respectively, Distimo states.
The proportion of free apps increased across all four platforms, and the average price of apps almost universally declined, in a trend Distimo said indicated a shift towards monetization methods beyond just charging for app purchases.
That trend benefitted challengers the most, with the number of free apps on the Ovi Store growing by nearly 900% in 2010 compared to around 260% for paid apps. However, the disparity may also be down to a lack of operator billing for a number of Ovi Store users, Distimo said.
Prices for apps across all four platforms also fell more in line over the year, as the market became more standardized.
Broken down by category, Apple's store saw a trend towards more business and productivity apps while BlackBerry App World had more growth in entertainment-themed products – despite RIM's reputation as a business-focused handset maker.
The offerings on Android Market and Ovi were more evenly balanced between business and pleasure.