Dominant U.S. App Store may be surpassed by China in 2012


According to a new study released by market research firm Distimo, despite the proliferation of handsets running Google's Android OS, which now accounts for 53 percent of the mobile smartphone market, Apple's U.S. App Store remains the top marketplace for mobile downloads. But Chinese App Store sales continue to grow and may even bypass Apple's U.S. App Store numbers in 2012.

Over the course of 2011, Apple's iPhone app sales saw a steady decline month-to month, though Distimo blames the lull on the later than usual release of the iPhone 4S. The lowest point of the year occurred in September when anticipation for the 4S was highest, and was followed by a spike upon the handset's debut. Peak revenue for the U.S. App Store came a little over a month after the newest version of Apple's smartphone was released. The same "anticipation effect" was seen in app sales for the iPad, as downloads declined in January and February only to pick up steam after the iPad 2 was released in March.

China now demonstrates a strong increase in downloads through 2011 and may surpass the U.S. App Store in 2012.

In January, the Chinese iPhone App Store only accounted for 18 percent of combined U.S. and China downloads, but by November that number rose to 30 percent. China's share of iPad app sales showed more potential, with the two countries being nearly equal in terms of downloads for the tablet.

However, China still trails the U.S. in terms of generated revenue. But the situation may change in 2012. Moreover, Apple recently allowed Chinese customers to buy apps with local currency.


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