The world of mobile apps is evolving at a blistering pace. It's important, it's fun and it's a bit hard to follow.
The firm ShoutEm is helping with an interesting graphic that presents a tremendous amount of data on the current state of the mobile application landscape. The graphic is a bit busy, but a good guide though it is offered by mocoNews.net.
According to the graphic, ShoutEm says that the number of downloaded apps will increase from 5 billion last year to 21 billion in 2013. The graphic suggests that the three most popular apps are games, but that social networking is the most popular category. Apps related to financial transactions will proliferate. Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the graphic and the story is that the focus is moving from things done internally on the device to things done externally. mocoNews puts it this way:
Meanwhile, only one-mobile music-is dedicated to something you would actually consume on your handset. That underscores the big shift we have seen in mobile content, whose roots were in products like ringtones, wallpapers, and other items to personalize your handset. That business has waned, as handsets and networks have become more sophisticated, and we spend more time and money using our handsets to do much more.
The Yankee Group also weighed in on mobile apps this week. The analyst said that by 2015, app stores will generate $36 billion in revenue. The firm says that North America now produces more revenues and during the next few years, Asia-Pacific will be strong. By 2015, Asia-Pacific will be responsible for $16 billion, a bit less than half of the total. In addition, one-third -- 32 percent -- of apps will be paid for in 2015. The percentage was 27 percent last year. Yankee agrees that games now are the leading app category, and that it will be overtaken by social networking. Finally, the firm says that mobile application revenues billed by carriers will increase to 25 percent in 2015 from 7 percent last year.
The tension between free and paid applications is discussed in this phonedog piece. The piece says that costs run from $0.99 to $5.00 and that the Android Market tends to have comparatively few paid apps, and those they have are less expensive. The apps in Apple's App Store tend to be more expensive and can run up to $20.00 or, in special cases, far beyond.
Writer Taylor Martin suggests that higher-priced apps may become more common:
... I'm referring to the concept Adobe Photoshop iPad app that was shown off last month at Photoshop World. While only a concept, it demonstrates how mobile applications can have similar functionality to the same program on a full-fledged computer. Comparable software is still several months, if not years, from reaching consumer hands. But when that day comes, we will likely see a large surge in the price of some mobile applications.
If functionality and prices go up, it is a clear bet that quality and user-friendliness must as well. GigaOM's Om Malik provides his take on what applications must do to win the hearts and minds of users-and overcome the inherent limitations of slow network speeds, small screen size and the need to allow users to perform tasks without a keyboard. These constraining factors are to some extent moderating-networks are getting faster, for instance-but still pose challenges.