Mobile app downloads will reach 44 billion cumulatively worldwide by 2016, according to new research data from ABI Research’s “Mobile Applications Market Data.” Android and Windows 7 downloads are growing and catching up with Apple’s as their installed user base of devices grows, and increasing purchases of smartphones and tablets are driving the trend.

All the mobile download activity has led to constant innovation, and marketing ploys, to capture and keep consumers’ interest, according to ABI research analyst Fei Feng Seet, at times to the detriment of app storefront providers and the market.

“For example, an app called OfferedApp promises to provide a paid app each day in exchange for users completing a simple survey or signing up for an offer with advertisers. Some apps also offer virtual currency or other premiums to consumers who download a featured app from the developer. However these new marketing tactics are likely to face opposition as iTunes starts to clamp down on such incentivized promotions when they cut into Apple’s revenue from in-app sales.”

In response, Apple modified its mobile app ranking methodology by taking into account qualitative information, such as reviews, as well of download stats. “App store browsing on devices has been an issue with users, who can face difficulty finding an app of interest. Having many ‘misleading’ apps hogging the top charts for a week at a time does not help either, so this could not be a better time for Apple to reform its app ecosystem in an environment where competition and consumers’ heightened expectations are increasing the pressure,” explained ABI practice director Neil Strother.

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