Apple may still be the undisputed king of the app stores, but new research suggests that its reign may have less than a year left, barring any surprising developments (and, no, the iPhone 4S doesn’t count as a surprising development).
Currently, according to research from Xyologic, monthly Apple app downloads in the U.S. are nearly double those of Android downloads—494 million versus 279 million in August—with the vast majority of Apple apps being downloaded for the iPhone (417 million, versus the iPad’s 77 million).
But the company’s analysis suggests that Android’s app download rate will overtake Apple’s by June 2012.
Android has already overtaken Apple in some overseas markets (namely, the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal), but it will take until the middle of next year for the same to be true worldwide. Coincidentally—or not, perhaps—that’s around the same time the Android Market is expected to finally reach parity with the number of available apps in Apple’s App Store.
A quirk in Xyologic’s research could throw everything into disarray, however; there is no hard data for the Chinese market in terms of Android app downloads. Although estimates are made for downloads through the official Marketplace in China, Android apps are also available in other storefronts, meaning that the 22 million estimate for August could be off by as much as a factor of four. That may give Apple even more reason to think about doing something to boost its own App Store downloads sooner rather than later.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.