According to a new report from ABI Research, Apple and Microsoft lead the pack amongst app stores.

As a market intelligence company, ABI Research monitors and analyzes key industry trends that range from marketing planning assessments to product benchmarking. The new report, based on its Mobile Application Markets Research Service, examines specific economic areas within the app community -- such as revenue, business models and categorized trends. It was then determined which company had the most successful app marketplace in implementation and innovation.

How Well It Works

While Android devices have proven to be in an everlasting popularity battle with Apple, Google and its Play Store has fallen behind both iTunes and Microsoft in terms of app implementation. ABI looked at monetization, market share in the application sector as well as the quality and amount of applications available for download. As was mentioned, Apple is at the forefront followed by Microsoft, Google and BlackBerry's parent company RIM.

Who’s the Most Original?

Presentation is a key part of any company or industry as it attracts and keeps customer attention. Despite being the top distributor in the implementation field, Apple doesn't measure up in the innovation category. According to the report, Microsoft has passed Apple in terms of originality when it comes to the look of the Windows store and and the apps provided to Windows Phone users. Google came in third.The report suggests that Microsoft narrowly beat Apple because its applications are presented in a more professional manner that highlights key attributes.

Learning Opportunities

No App Store is Perfect

Although one app company may currently be ahead of another, there is always room for improvement. According to ABI Senior Analyst, Aapo Markkanen when trying to improve the design and functionality of their stores, companies should look to their competitors. For example, since Microsoft is first in the design category, other companies like Apple can learn from its model.

Microsoft should be lauded for its initiative to extend its ranking algorithm beyond raw download figures, by including factors that can actually measure the customer satisfaction and retention," he says. “ Moves like this can help break the developers free from the ‘tyranny of downloads’, decrease their reliance on costly marketing campaigns, and thus lower the barriers to entry.”

Smartphones in 2012

2012 was a year of change for smartphone companies. Along with the launch of Windows 8 and the release of the Windows 8 phone, Samsung also updated its devices, such as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note, while Apple launched the much anticipated iPhone 5. After a lackluster year, BlackBerry is looking to improve its smartphone standing as it has plans to introduce BlackBerry 10 next month.