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In 2011, the competition between Google Android devices and Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) became heated. But as new year-end data shows, consumers turned to the iPhone to play games while they enjoyed broader apps on Android.

Clearly, the numbers show that iPhone consumers are using their devices for games, while Android users are using other kinds of apps. Xyologic, a research firm that indexes and search mobile app stores, reported that the number of app downloads on the Apple iTunes App Store for the top 150 titles in the U.S. more than doubled in 2011 to 97 million from 37 million a year earlier. On Android, the number of app downloads for the top 150 grew four-fold in 2011 to 125 million from 29 million a year earlier.

In the Apple App Store in the U.S., 100 of the top 150 downloads were games, while the remaining 50 were non-game apps. On the Android Market in the U.S., the number of games in the top 150 was 65. Game downloads on Apple outnumbered other apps by a three-to-one margin, or 71.5 million downloads for games versus 25.6 million for non-game apps. On Android, there were 91.5 million non-game app downloads, compared to 33.4 million game downloads.

On Apple, game “usage is mostly driven by game publishers who find Apple’s system working well for their business model,” said Matthaus Krzykowski, co-founder of Xyologic. [Disclosure: Krzykowski was formerly an advisor to VentureBeat and remains an occasional contributor.] On Android, payment issues held back game publishers from fully embracing the platform, he said. He said that the dominant form of monetization on Android is advertising, with less emphasis on free-to-play, where users play for free and purchase virtual goods with real money. Game publishers on iOS have shifted to the more lucrative free-to-play model.


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Here are the top 25 downloaded publishers on Android in 2011, with links going to the traffic descriptions for each publisher.

Google, Facebook, Rovio, Adobe, DroidHen Casual, Outfit7, Magma Mobile, Glu Mobile, Go Dev Team, Kittehface Software, Skype, Notes, Nikolay Ananiev, Swiss Codemonkeys, NHN Corporation, Yahoo, Handcent, Pandora, Al Factory Limited, Kaufcom Games Apps Widgets, Verizon Wireless, Runnergames, Backflip Studios, Polarbit.

And here are the top 25 downloaded app publishers on the iPhone in 2011. All but one of these are game publishers (Burbn is the creator of Instagram).

Glu Mobile, Gameloft, Big Fish Games, Rovio, Capcom, Chilingo, Storm8/(TeamLava), Outfit7, Electronic Arts/Electronic Arts BV, Gamevil, Halfbrick Studios, DeNa/(Backflip Studios/Ngmoco), Zynga/Newtoy, NaturalMotion, Pocket Gem/(Streetview Labs), Tencent, NimbleBit, PopCap, Playforge, Clickgamer, Com2uS, Burbn, Orangenose Studios.

Xyologic also released the November top download data for both the iPhone and Android. On iOS, Zynga’s Words With Friends free-to-play app was No. 1, with 3 million downloads, followed by Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift from Chillingo and 101-in1 Games by Nordcurrent. On Android, Facebook was the top app in November, with 5.3 million downloads, followed by Brightest Flashlight Free and Facebook Messenger.

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