The Growth of Mobile Apps is Overwhelming -- For Now

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Folks in the mobile application sector should take a snapshot of what is happening today to make them feel better when, inevitably, the growth curve slows. They can take these numbers out of their desk drawers and feel better, at least for a moment.


Mobile research firm research2guidance last week released some startling numbers about the mobile app segment. The worldwide market was $1.7 billion in 2009. During the first six months of this year, it says the market reached $2.2 billion. Likewise, the number of downloaded apps jumped to 3.9 billion in the first six months of 2010 from 3.1 billion during all of 2009. The firm, which said that the trend should continue, suggested that the maturation of competitors to Apple's store from the likes of Nokia and BlackBerry are the main drivers of the growth.

Interesting numbers on this topic also emerged from a Freshfield Bruckhaus survey of network operators. The study primary focused on the approaching end of flat-rate mobile pricing. Thirty-seven percent of respondents suggest that application downloads will be the main revenue source in three years. That number exceeded voice and video downloads -- the second and third finishers -- by 1 and 5 percentage points, respectively. The survey found that 80 percent believe that opening their platforms to independent application developers is prudent, and 45 percent say that creating their own app store would be a good move.


The news this week that Trident Capital led a series B investment of $15 million in PocketGear, which bills itself as the world's largest open app store and content marketplace, adds evidence of the market's vibrancy. The release says that BlackBerry Partners Fund also participated.

The category shows signs of maturing as well. Last week, In-Stat released research suggesting that developers focus on seven applications (e-mail, games, social networking, instant messaging, mapping/directions, music/radio and weather). The firm found that microblogging, mobile banking and VoIP had the highest growth rate; Android has the fastest growth rate; prices and margins are under pressure and productivity applications generated 59 percent of revenues.

The emergence of mobile application downloads and the parallel emergence of online stores and marketplaces is nothing less than a transformative event in the history of mobile communications. Even assuming that, the numbers from research2guidance are startling. And good numbers for the mobile app community to review on the rainy day that inevitably will come.