Windows Phone app downloads to double in 2012

Windows Phone’s share of app downloads is set to double year-on-year in 2012, but will still account for a marginal 2% of the overall market, ABI Research predicts.

The firm forecasts total downloads of 36 billion apps through 2012, and that the lion’s share – 83% - will be generated by Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS. While Microsoft’s platform is tipped to double its share year-on-year, it will continue to lag behind those operating systems, RIM’s BlackBerry and even smartphone partner Nokia’s legacy Symbian software.

ABI notes Microsoft’s progress is being stymied by the small number of Windows Phone handsets currently in the market, but also by less obvious factors including the long time taken for the platform to achieve global penetration, which has limited its potential user base. Other problems include sluggish rollout of in-app purchasing capabilities, and a lack of tablet PCs running the software.

Despite the slow start, ABI research associate Lim Shiyang notes Microsoft is gaining momentum, albeit after starting from a point that is “frustratingly low” relative to its rivals.

There are plus points for Microsoft, however. Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen says app developers find Windows Phone appealing from a technical standpoint, and notes the platform doesn’t need huge device volumes to succeed provided it avoids the “fragmentation pitfalls of Android.”