Mobile applications (apps) have been around since the late nineties and the apps stores have been available for a quite some time as well. Operators have been offering content and applications on their appstores for most of the last decade. But it wasn’t until the launch of Apple Appstore that the appsworld started to blossom in earnest. First, it fundamentally changed the revenue model in favor of the developers which has become the current defacto standard (70/30) in the mobile apps business. Second, it brought more developers into the ecosystem as it fostered the notion of focusing on just 1-2 platforms rather than the entire device ecosystem to be relevant. Third, the time-to-market equation changed for developers so that they can get the application from conception to market in a fraction of a time of what was possible in the past. Finally, the importance of a seamless end-to-end user experience to increase usage and monetization became a core principle in the mobile apps space.
While Apple has played a significant role in reenergizing the mobile apps space by bringing more consumers and developers into the ecosystem, there is significant activity outside the iPhone or smartphones space that is often not discussed. The purpose of this research study is to take a holistic look at the mobile apps space across all platforms and on a global basis to get a sense of the size of the mobile apps market and the direction it is headed.
The overall mobile apps downloads are expected to increase from over 7 billion in 2009 to almost 50 billion by 2012 growing at the rate of 92% CAGR. The revenue from mobile apps which includes both paid downloads and revenue from advertising and virtual goods is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012 at the rate of 62% CAGR. Though ondeck (operator managed) mobile apps sales exceeded those from offdeck in 2009, by 2012, offdeck is expected to hold the lion share of the mobile apps revenue.
The dynamics of the app market are quite different in emerging nations where to effectively monetize the significant app momentum (app downloads/active user and growth rates in some of these countries exceed those from the western markets, irrespective of the device type), creative strategies are needed to attract new consumers and different business models will be required to make the regional ecosystems viable.
Overall, by enhancing discovery, improving user experience, dropping price barriers, and increasing developer revenue share, the apps ecosystem can continue to prosper. The paper presents the results of the study in more detail as well discusses the future of mobile apps and how the app economy is likely to evolve.