Since iPad’s introduction in 2010, some 3 billion iPad apps have been downloaded by happy consumers, translating into 19 percent of all cumulative downloads by Apple users.

According to ABI Research, the iPhone took as long as two years before being able to report such downloading success compared to the iPad that reached the major milestone in 18 months. On the flip OS side, Android tablets only have around 440 million downloads thus far.

“Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings,” explains research associate Lim Shiyang. “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.”

Besides offering a larger quantity of iPad-specific apps, Apple’s iPad apps are generally considered to be of a better quality compared to Android tablet-specific apps. As of 3Q11, there were 120,000 apps published specifically for the iPad.

Adds Dan Shey, practice director/mobile services at ABI Research, “In terms of hardware, the iPad device still offers much more compared to the current crop of tablets in the market. Android is currently being used on many low end tablets that do not offer experiences anywhere near the iPad and this dampens the download momentum for users.”

However, things are expected to change as manufacturers adopt the recently released Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich device as well as to accelerate product development to close the specifications gap between such tablets as the Amazon Kindle Fire and the iPad.

Annual Android app downloads for smartphones are expected to hit 58 billion by 2016, compared with 27 billion for Apple’s iPhone.

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