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The success of downloadable smartphone apps will continue at least through the next five years. A new study from ABI Research estimates that app industry will achieve 44 billion cumulative downloads by 2016.

If the forecast is correct, it means that native apps will still rule over HTML5 and other new web programming technologies for websites in the browser. At least in the near future.

The latest figures from vendors suggest that the cumulative download number is now around 15-16 billion. Not surprisingly, the two biggest sources for downloadable apps are Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Apple announced on January that its App Store has now crossed 10 billion downloads of both free and paid apps. Android Market estimates that users have downloaded 4.2 billion apps so far. The numbers are quite impressive –- Apple’s App Store and the Android Market have been around less than three years. The App Store opened on June 10, 2008 and Android Market on October 22, 2008.

Right now there are around 350,000 apps in Apple’s App Store and 330,000 apps in Android Market. Nokia’s Ovi Store has 54,000 apps, RIM’s App World 16,000 applications and Windows Marketplace 15,000 downloadable applications.

Apple will face increasing competition from Android and Windows Phone 7. According to ABI Research, the competitors are steadily catching up with Apple as adoption picks up pace and expansion of their mobile OS installed bases continues to grow. The mobile app ecosystem and market model is also expected to evolve with the increasing pool of smartphone and tablet users.

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