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iPad App Store hits 3 billion downloads, represents 19% of Apple's iOS devices

There have been 3 billion downloads of App Store applications designed specifically for Apple's iPad, representing 19 percent of all iOS App Store downloads, a new study has found.

ABI Research announced in a press release on Wednesday that it has estimated 3 billion applications have been cumulatively downloaded since the iPad first launched in 2010. The iPad represents nearly a fifth of all cumulative iOS downloads, despite the fact that it debuted nearly three years after the iPhone, and two years after the iOS App Store opened.

"Discounting all of those apps that were originally downloaded for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings," research associate Lim Shiyang said. "Many Android tablets in the market are still using older versions of Android, which disadvantages users from enjoying the better effects of apps produced from more advanced software development kits."

ABI estimates that there are 120,000 applications that have been created specifically for the iPad available on the App Store as of the third quarter of 2011. That number and timeframe is consistent with news that surfaced last June after the number of applications on the App Store topped 100,000.

The growth of iPad-specific applications and downloads of iPad software is comparable to the explosive start the iPhone had when the App Store first opened. Apple announced that iPhone and iPod touch application downloads had topped 3 billion in early January of 2010, or less than 18 months after the App Store opened.

ABI's tablet data does not include iPhone applications, which can also be run from the iPad but do not take advantage of the tablet's larger 9.7-inch multi-touch display. The research firm has also predicted that Android tablets will gain more traction in terms of applications with the release of Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," which enhances tablet support for the mobile operating system over its predecessor, Android 3.0 "Honeycomb."

The data comes from ABI Research's "Mobile Applications Market Data," which tracks mobile application downloads and revenues segmented by mobile operating system platform. Included in the database are historical data and forecasts for application downloads, as well as revenue forecast and an overview of mobile storefronts like Apple's App Store and the Android Market.