Angry Birds and Facebook among most downloaded iPhone apps of 2011

apple app store appsWith an estimated half a million applications on offer from Apple’s App Store, the challenge for every developer is getting their work noticed. Of course, if the app is connected to a successful website or product, there’s a good chance it’ll make it to the top of the charts. So it may not come as a total surprise that among the most downloaded iPhone apps of 2011, Facebook was up there.

According to recently released data from Apple, the bird-flinging game Angry Birds was also a big hit with iPhone users.

In an interview with Reuters, vice president Craig Palli of marketing company Fiksu said the most downloaded apps of last year included three main features: “the ability to connect with friends, discovery and games that let users past the time and pick up where they left off.”

Facebook’s app topped the social networking category, with Skype also proving popular.

Along with Angry Birds, Words With Friends was also a hit among iOS users in 2011. The game’s addictiveness was highlighted last month when actor Alec Baldwin was ordered off an American Airlines plane shortly before take-off when he refused to turn off his mobile device while playing the word game. In the paid-apps list, games took nine of the top ten positions.

Pandora, which allows users to create a kind of personalized radio station, came top in the music category. “Pandora is such a good app that they don’t really need to spend money in marketing. They just get user after user because it’s such a compelling experience,” Palli told Reuters. Among other music apps, TuneIn Radio received a large number of downloads in 2011. The app, which presents audio fans with a vast choice of radio stations from across the globe, now has over 30 million active users worldwide.

Other apps that performed well in 2011 include, in the camera category, Instagram, which incidentally was named Apple’s iPhone app of the year last month.

The lifestyle category was dominated by daily deals service Groupon and Pimp Your Screen, which allows users to customize the screen of their Apple device.

Netflix’s app came top of the entertainment category, while Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker and Nike+ GPS were the most popular downloads among health and fitness apps.

Noting that free apps get downloaded more often than paid apps, Palli said that 2011 saw many paid-app developers change strategy in an attempt to market their products more effectively. Many developers are now migrating “from a straight paid app experience where you pay for the app up front to an in-app purchase or upgrade experience,” he explained.

Apple’s iOS App Store launched in July 2008 with the company announcing last year that apps had been downloaded more than 15 billion times, with developers receiving over $2.5 billion in payments.