Mobile app store downloads tipped to top 102 billion in 2013

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App store

Gartner warns mobile app download growth set to slow as novelty of new devices wears thin.

Mobile app store downloads are set to top 102 billion this year, with free offerings accounting for 91 per cent of software users install, but growth is expected to slow in future years.

Despite this, market watcher Gartner predicts mobile app downloads will rake in $26 billion in revenue this year, which is $8 billion more than in 2012 when 64 billion apps were downloaded across the globe.

Users are not put off by the fact that they have already paid for an app, and are willing to spend more if they are happy with the experience.

This growth is projected to slow as time goes, according to Gartner forecasts, as the novelty of having access to such a wide variety of apps wears off.

Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, explained:  “The average downloads per device should be high in early years as users get new devices and discover the apps they like.

“Over time they accumulate a portfolio of apps they like and stick to, so there will be moderate numbers of downloads in the later years.”

The fact the vast majority of the apps people download are free of charge reflects the relatively small proportion of paid-for apps on offer through the Apple App Store and Google Play.

“Free apps currently account for about 60 per cent and 80 per cent of the total available apps in Apple App Store and Google Play, respectively,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.

“However, we expect average monthly downloads per iOS device to decline from 4.9 in 2013 to 3.9 in 2017, while average monthly downloads per Android device will decline from 6.2 in 2013 to 5.8 in 2017.

“This relates back to the overall trend of users using the same apps more often rather than downloading new ones,” Blau added.

The analyst house said in-app purchases will make an increasing contribution to the revenue generated by app downloads until 2017, before tailing off.

At this point, in-app purchases will account for around 48 per cent of app store revenue, Gartner claims, whereas in 2012 it was responsible for just 11 per cent.

“We see that users are not put off by the fact that they have already paid for an app, and are willing to spend more if they are happy with the experience,” Blau explained.

“As a result, we believe that [in-app purchases] is a promising and sustainable monetisation method because it encourages performance-based purchasing. That is, users only pay when they are happy with the experience, and developers have to work hard to earn the revenue through good design and performance.”