App analytics firm Distimo said that 91 percent of the “top brands” have a presence in at least one of the major app stores, which it described as a “significant increase” compared to 18 months ago, when only 51 percent of the brands published or licensed an app.

According to Distimo, brands have realised that publishing applications within the various stores offers a viable channel to promote their brand, reach consumers and, for a subset of brands, sell content. It said that this is especially true of companies in the media, business services, and automotive industries, who will actively use app stores as a way to distribute their content.

The study also found that when looking at brackets of ten applications at a time, brands which ranked highest in the 2011 Interbrand Best Global Brands report have more presence in the different app stores in terms of volume of applications.

It was also noted that brands are “heavy publishers,” with an average of 24 apps per brand, although this is biased due to a “few large publishers” – media companies Disney and Sony.  Removing these two from the list, the average remains high, at around 15 apps on average per brand.

Apple’s App Store for iPhone is “by far” the most popular for the top 100 global brands, while Nokia’s store is at the bottom of the list – perhaps surprisingly, because of the high penetration this company still has. It was noted that Android Market and the App Store for iPad are “both increasingly seen as good app stores for brands to promote their visibility and reach consumers.”

Interestingly, most brands in the top 100 are not looking to make money from app stores, as nearly all of the apps are free. Only a limited number of brands – 27 percent of publishers with 32 percent of the apps – have a strategy to make money from their products, including Disney, Adobe and Thomson Reuters.

The most popular app categories are “personalisation” and “lifestyle.” Another category where brands have focused their efforts is “business,” which can be explained by the inclusion of companies such as HP, SAP and IBM on the top 100 global brand list.