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Android tops iOS in total mobile apps downloaded, still trails in downloads per user

Despite besting iOS in total mobile app downloads for the first time ever, Android's downloads per user are still only half that of Apple's.

In a report released on Monday by ABI Research, Android overtook iOS in overall app downloads during the second quarter of 2011, though iOS users reportedly downloaded more apps per person by a 2:1 ratio.

Analysts at ABI report that the Google OS garnered 44 percent of overall mobile downloads, compared to Apple's 31 percent. Android-based handset shipments increased during Q2 2011, while iPhone shipments flagged as customers waited for the iPhone 4S to be released, giving the Android's installed based a 2.4-to-1 advantage against iOS devices. That gap is expected to grow to 3-to-1 by 2016, according to ABI estimates.

"Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator app stores," said research associate Lim Shiyang. "These conditions alone explain why Android is the new leader in the mobile application market."

Despite Android's larger user footprint, iOS users download more apps per person, making the Apple OS the main focus for app developers. ABI attributes this to Apple's superior app monetization policies, which attract high quality developers who subsequently create a better catalog of apps.

As the number of app sales continue to balloon with more people moving to smartphones, a report released earlier this year expects Apple to continue leading in profits through 2016, with iOS making $2.86 billion compared to an estimated $1.5 billion for Android.

According to ABI, global app downloads are expected to hit 29 billion by the end of 2011, compared to 9 billion in 2010.