What Apple has been able to do with the App Store, even if you believe the numbers are fudged, is truly astonishing.  Apple claims that they recently eclipsed the 3 billion download mark and it only took them roughly 18 months to do so.  Market research firm, Gartner, says that 2.5 billion apps were downloaded from the App Store in 2009 alone.  Gartner accounts for another 16 million apps being downloaded from other platforms,  so, when you do the math, well over 99% of all mobile downloads were from Apple’s App Store.

These kinds of numbers are awesomely impressive for Apple, however, I see a huge opportunity for everyone else.

Companies like Microsoft, Palm, Google, and RIM aren’t going to sit idly by and allow Apple to completely control this market without challenge. The fact that Apple doesn’t sell more iPhones than the number of devices it’s competitors sells means that there is a huge market for mobile applications that don’t run on iPhones.

As far as ease of application development goes, RIM, is really the only major player who lags significantly behind the iPhone from a development standpoint.  Since the BlackBerry market for apps is the biggest, they have a bit of time to catch up.  Many developers would argue that it is already easier to develop apps for devices running Android than it is the iPhone.

The fact that Apple has such a ridiculous lead may lead to common standards amongst it’s competitors allowing for easier portability between platforms.  If a developer can write an application once, make a few OS specific tweaks, recompile, and support a broader customer base than what Apple offers with the iPhone, guess where developers are going to spend their time churning out code.

I believe that  Apple will maintain a significant amount of market share when it comes to mobile application downloads and purchases in the foreseeable future, however, I all but guarantee that it will be well south of 99.4% in 2010…

[Via ars technica]