The world’s four leading app stores generated $2.2 billion in total revenue from 13.4 billion downloads in the first quarter of 2013, according to analyst firm Canalys.
The App Interrogator research found that Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store and BlackBerry World enjoyed a 9 percent increase in direct revenue from paid apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions compared to the previous quarter.
This was slightly below the 11 per cent growth in downloads.
Apple’s App Store generated the largest indexed proportion of revenue (74 per cent), while Google Play saw the highest number of downloads, accounting for 51 per cent of the total.
“Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world. In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored,” said senior analyst Tim Shepherd.
Emerging markets such as South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia saw some of the strongest growth, boosted by the expanding base of smart device users in those markets.
Mature markets such as North America saw revenue rise by 8 per cent and download volumes rise 6 per cent, while Western Europe saw an 8 per cent increase in revenue on the back of a 10 per cent rise in download volume.
Shepherd said BlackBerry and Microsoft need to “proactively work to attract fresh, innovative content and services to their respective catalogues” as well as increase “the addressable market opportunities on offer to developers” by boosting sales of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8 devices.
The analyst added that the strength of app ecosystems will determine the winners and losers in the smartphone market.
He also said the new devices and 100,000 apps for the BlackBerry 10 platform give it “a much greater chance to compete for consumer attention”, while Microsoft is making “good progress” in attracting well-known titles to Windows Phone.
However, he said there is no room for complacency for BlackBerry and that Microsoft needs to make building apps for the platform “a priority for developers” and better communicate “the already established strength of its app story”.