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Apple App Store still most profitable mobile marketplace

App downloads across the top app stores increased 11 per cent during the first three months of 2013 compared to the previous quarter, according to new data from Canalys.

The four leading app stores — Apple's App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Store, and BlackBerry World — together hit 13.4 billion downloads, the research firm said. Revenue from paid apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions grew nine per cent to reach $2.2 billion (£1.4 billion).

"Apps have had a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets," Adam Daum, Canalys chief analyst of analytics, said in a statement. "They are now central to how consumers engage with content and connected services. This is a multi-billion-dollar growth market, with more and more consumers around the world now comfortable and confident in finding apps, downloading them and making in-app purchases, on a growing addressable base of smart phones and tablets."

Much of the growth in terms of download volumes and revenue came from mature mobile markets like North America and Western Europe, according to Canalys. In addition, some of the increase also came from emerging markets, like South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia, where the use of smart devices is also ratcheting up.

Apple's App Store was the leader in terms of revenue, accounting for 74 per cent of total earnings from all four stores. Google Play, meanwhile, had the greatest number of downloads, or 51 per cent.

"Apple's App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world," Tim Shepherd, Canalys senior analyst, said in a statement. "In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored."

BlackBerry 10 now has more than 100,000 apps available in its store, up from 70,000 at launch. Microsoft has also made progress to attract some sought-after apps to its platform but, like BlackBerry, it still lacks some popular additions.