We all know that newly minted iOS device owners spent their Christmas evening loading up their iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches with mobile apps—at least, if you buy into last week’s report by mobile analytics firm Flurry, they did. But the downloads didn’t stop the moment Boxing Day dawned: In its latest report, Flurry contends that the combined number of iOS and Android app downloads broke the 1 billion mark for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Specifically, Flurry claims estimates that 1.2 billion applications were downloaded during what it calls the “holiday power week.” It also believes that more than 20 million iOS and Android devices were activated during the holiday period.
The analytics company doesn’t break those numbers down between the iOS and Android platforms. And it’s basing those figures on data pulled from the 140,000 iOS and Android apps that use its analytics and market products, which the company says gives it a pretty reliable estimate as to just how many apps are downloaded on a daily basis; Flurry also matches up its own figures with data released by Google and Apple.
Whether you accept that methodology or not, the premise behind the 1.2 billion download claim seems sensible. iOS devices (and their Android counterparts) probably found their way on to many a holiday gift list this year. While you’d expect to see a burst of downloading on Christmas day immediately after presents are opened, new device owners are unlikely to confine their App Store shopping sprees to a single day. Existing device owners are also busy cashing in their App Store gift cards on new software. And since smartphones pose a gift-giving challenge thanks to contracts with wireless carriers, there’s also the prospect of new iPhone owners activating their devices in the days after Christmas for adding further fuel to the downloading fire.
By way of comparison, Flurry says the download activity it measured in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was a 60 percent boost over an average week. The company used the two weeks between December 4 and December 17 for its baseline, as the week of Dec. 18-24 was thrown off by a spate of downloads on Christmas Eve.
Heading into 2012, Flurry writes that “breaking the one-billion-download-barrier per week will become more commonplace.” That stands to reason as well: The smartphone segment remains just a fraction of the mobile phone market—400 million smartphones compared to 1.5 billion handsets, according to figures cited by Apple late last year. The tablet market figures to keep expanding as well, with the iPad leading the charge ahead of rival devices running Android. Whatever math you use, it adds up to a lot of mobile downloads beyond just the holiday season.