Apple claimed $3 out of each $4 top app stores made in Q1

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In the latest sign of the importance apps play in smartphone adoption, more than thirteen billion downloads were recorded during the first three months of 2013, according to a Monday report.

The survey of the four leading app stores also found Apple, Google and others earned $2.2 billion from apps, an eleven percent increase over the final quarter of 2012.

Whereas Apple leads in terms of revenue – and by a large margin, too – Google’s Play Store, thanks to a large installed base of Android devices, has the upper hand in terms of download count. Specifically, the App Store collected 74 percent of the revenue of top app stores, while Google Play led registered 51 percent of apps obtained…

According to research firm Canalys – which surveyed Apple’s App Store, Google’s Play Store, Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store and the BlackBerry World – Q1 2013 revenue from paid apps, in-app purchases and subscription grew at a combined nine percent.

Although emerging markets had the strongest levels of growth, demand for apps also rose in more mature markets, such as North America and Western Europe. North America saw app downloads rise eight percent, while app revenue rose by six percent, researchers announced.

In Western Europe, downloads increased by eight percent, while app revenue rose ten percent, compared to the last three months of 2012.

Canalys Q1 2013 app stores (chart PED 001)
Chart via Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune.

“Apps have a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets,” said Chief Analyst Adam Daum.

Although BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Market “remain distant challengers” to leader Apple and Google, the two smaller app stores should not be ignored, Senior Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd said in a statement.

According to Shepherd, there are now 100,000 apps available for the BackBerry 10, up from 70,000. The increased number of apps “have given BlackBerry a much greater chance to compete for consumer attention.”

Although the addition of Nokia is helping the Windows Phone platform, Microsoft must increase its marketing and communications efforts to highlight its app store, the analyst suggests.

In a related report, mobile analytics firm Flurry announced earlier this month that much of app usage is devoted to entertainment. Gaming accounts for a third of app usage, according to Flurry data.

In an ironic moment, Google was found to be the top publisher on Apple’s App Store. The distinction was believed due to the popularity of apps such as Google Maps.