The massive popularity and business opportunity provided by mobile applications continue to generate plenty of research from analyst groups.

A new report from Nielsen says the average smartphone owner has 27 apps installed on their device of choice, which is up from 22 on average in December. Yet there’s a wide spectrum of difference between the different smartphone platforms. iPhone owners, for instance, have an average of 40 apps, Android owners 25, and BlackBerry owners 14.

Among the types of apps downloaded, games rank first at 61%, followed by weather at 55%, mp3s and search at 50% and social networking at 49%. Music is fifth at 42%. Among the music apps, customized internet radio service Pandora is the most popular, with installations on 23% of iPhones (and the fifth most popular app of all kinds on the platform) 24% on Android phones and 18% of BlackBerries (fourth most popular overall on both).

Meanwhile a new Gartner study predicts that Google’s Android operating system will outpace both RIM’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone by 2014, with a 29.6% market share by that time compared to 11.7% and 14.9% respectively. Current Android has a 17.7% share of the market, compared to 17.5% for BlackBerry and 15.4% for the iPhone.