With the introduction of the new Maps platform and Passbook app to iOS 6, the latest version of its mobile operating system, Apple has extended the reach of its smartphone and tablet ecosystem, helping drive the company’s app store revenue up by nearly 70 percent by the end of this year, according to a new iSuppli report.

The report has said that Global Apple App Store revenue is expected to increase to $4.9 billion by the end of 2012, up from $2.9 billion in 2011. What it means is that nearly half of the revenue generated by the App Store in its five-year history will be earned this year alone. With this strong growth, Apple this year will command about a 65 percent share of the global app store market.

"Until now, Apple’s iOS ecosystem has focused on virtual services, such as apps, digital music and movies,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst for mobile at IHS. “However, with iOS version 6, Apple is moving into real-world location and financial-transaction features. The new Apple Maps and Passbook apps and accompanying location platform for app developers is the keystone for this real-world expansion, and will help support the accelerated growth of the Apple App Store market in 2012.”

The New Maps App

According to iSuupli, though Apple’s Maps may initially lag Android's Google Maps and Nokia's Windows Phone location services in some aspects, it does have many enticing features. For example, its turn-by-turn navigation can make Maps much more convincing for drivers.

“This will be more significant in the United States than in Europe, given that U.S. citizens drive twice as much as Europeans. U.S. motorists drove more than 10 times as many miles per capita than in the United Kingdom, for instance,” said the iSuppli report.

Swift Upgrade Process

Unlike Android and Windows Phone, most iOS users update to the latest firmware version, thanks to Apple’s slick upgrade process for new iOS versions. Apple told during the Worldwide Developers Conference in June that more than 80 percent of the iOS users had upgraded to the then-current iOS 5.

“We expect adoption of iOS6 to be equally swift and pervasive,” said Fogg. “This means that Apple's app developers have a much greater potential target market for Apps that use iOS6's headline new features, such as the new Apple Maps location platform, Passbook and Facebook integration.”

“Apple understands that to build a viable ecosystem, it needs to have a large audience of users on the most recent version of iOS. Apple has been, and will continue to be, successful at delivering that up-to-date installed base,” Fogg added.

The iSuppli report has said that Apple is now much more than a hardware company, as demonstrated by the size of the users for its online cloud-based services. Apple now has more than 435 million iTunes accounts with credit cards attached, up from 225 million in June 2011.

What helped Apple achieve such a growth were the record-breaking iPhone shipments and the iOS 5 feature set. Last year’s iOS version encouraged users to sign up for Apple's ID to enable iOS app downloads, iCloud backup and Game Center support.

According to iSuppli, these accounts use the same Apple ID that ties together Apple's other online services including the iTunes music store.

Last year, Apple garnered more than 125 million iCloud users, in excess of 130 million Game Center users and over 140 million iMessage users, according to figures reported at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.