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In Battle of the Apps, is Apple losing the Steve Jobs edge to Google?

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

February 5, 2013 | 3 min read

It was the difference that set Apple apart; the huge number of apps available for the iPhone . Steve Jobs introduced the App Store in 2008 along with the marketing campaign,“There’s an app for that” .

Steve Jobs: We have an app for that

Now, Bloomberg reports today, that five years after sparking a mobile-software boom, Apple is losing its advantage in smartphone applications to Google.

Sales of apps from Google’s online store doubled in the fourth quarter from the prior three months; Apple’s revenue climbed 20 percent, according to market researcher App Annie.

Ssome software firms such as Ngmoco LLC, which in the past wrote programmes for Apple before Google, have put the two operating systems on equal footing -- in some cases developing for Google first, said Bloomberg.

Google trailed Apple for years in apps available - but caught up last year, saying in October that its Google Play featured 700,000 applications, the same number Apple boasted that month.

“It’s growing exponentially -- we’ve seen an inflection point the past six months,” Clive Downie, chief executive officer of Ngmoco , told Bloomberg. “We treat Android and Apple the same. They are equal partners to us and we put equal amounts of resources toward both platforms.”

Google’s gains are mirrored in share prices.Google shares closed at a record high on Feb. 1, while Apple’s stock has tumbled 37 percent from its $700+peak in September.

Three of four handsets sold in the $260 billion global smartphone market are powered by Google’s Android operating system. And Google has been making it easier for programmers to build apps and simpler for users to find and purchase them.

Apple has more than 800,000 apps in its online store, the company said last month. More than 40 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store, generating more than $7 billion for developers, Apple said in January. That’s up from $5 billion in June.

Google said in September that at least 25 billion apps had been downloaded since the Android app store started in 2008, with a growth rate of about 1.5 billion a month.

Apple’s app sales generate 3.5 times the revenue of Google’s, according to App Annie.

And Android still has room for improvement, particularly to address the programming challenge posed by varied screen sizes and graphics power among a panoply of handsets, said Bloomberg.

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