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Happy App Year: Downloads Pass 1 Billion/Week, U.S. Way Ahead Of The Rest

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The smartphone and tablet buying rush over the holidays spilled over into a corresponding deluge of app downloads, with the total weekly number exceeding one billion for the first time.

According to figures from app analytics firm Flurry, there were 1.2 billion apps downloaded to Android and iOS devices between December 25 and December 31, based on the top 20 mobile countries that Flurry regularly tracks.

The downloads even broke through the predictions made at the beginning of the week by Flurry itself when it noted that Christmas day saw a record 6.8 million Android and iOS device activations. For the whole week, Flurry now says that it believes 20 million Android and iOS devices were activated.

These higher download figures are probably due to that big influx of new devices over the week — and possibly a rush of gift cards for apps, too — so it may well be that in the weeks ahead the average number of downloads return to sub-billion figures before continuing their steady growth once again.

It should be noted that Flurry’s research does not indicate how those 1.2 billion apps broke down in terms of platforms or categories — whether they are games, entertainment apps or those providing information. Also: Flurry’s track downloads in the “official” app stores, the Android Market and Apple’s App Store — and not those downloads in non-official app stores, such as the many that exist for Android apps in countries like China. If counted, this would likely mean even more apps download.

Flurry says the 1.2 billion figure represents an increase of 60 percent on the average downloads between December 4 and December 17, when a mere 750 million apps were downloaded in the top 20 countries. Flurry says that the week of December 18-24 saw that figure start to climb, with 857 million downloads.

Country break-down. The U.S. was far and away biggest country of all in Flurry’s research when it came to app downloads for the week. The country accounted for 509 million, or 42.3 percent, of all the downloads.

The next-biggest country was China, at 99 million. Considering that China (again, based on Flurry’s figures) accounts for one-third of the world’s smartphone market, and the U.S. for 41 percent, that’s a somewhat disproportionate break-down. Flurry’s explanation: most of China doesn’t celebrate Christmas. “While the United States widely celebrates Christmas, China is largely non-religious, with over 60% of the population considering themselves agnostic or atheist. In China, Christians make up just 3 – 4% of the population,” it writes. One other possibility could be that China also has a lot of popular Android app stores that operate outside the official Android Market; downloads in those stores are less easy to track, and are not tracked by Flurry.

Following Flurry’s theory about largely non-Christian territories (and, it seems, not bitten too hard by the non-religious Xmas consumer bug) two other countries also slipped in download rankings compared to their smartphone installed bases: South Korea (4th-largest smartphone base) and Japan (5th-largest) ranked at 7th and 10th places for app downloads last week. Conversely, Canada busted past its 8th-place smartphone ranking to have the 4th-biggest app download volume.