Conference To Show UK Contribution To App Industry

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As delegates gather in Aberystwyth to discuss the future of apps, Ovum predicts massive industry growth

The latest developments in applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad will be debated at a conference held at Aberystwyth University this week.

The three-day iOS DEV UK event, which will be attended by more than 170 delegates from around the world, will discuss the role of applications in the modern world and the contribution that British developers have made to this burgeoning industry. Delegates will also vote on the best apps available.

“When Apple launched their iPhone App Store in 1998, they started a revolution in mobile phones,” said Professor Chris Price from the Department of Computer Science, himself a developer of apps for learners of Welsh. “Before that date, very few people expected their phone to be able to do anything except make phone calls, send texts or maybe surf the web.

“The aim of this conference is to bring together the people in the UK that are actively causing this revolution, and to share experience to make us more competitive in building apps that are changing the world.”

Other speakers at the conference include Dave Addey, managing girector of Agant Limited, developer of the award-winning UK Train Times app; Jeremy Davies, head of smartphone applications development at NXP Software; and Dave Wiskus, chief creative officer of US-based developers Black Pixel.

Android upsets the Apple cart

The news comes as new research from telecoms analyst Ovum reveals that Android is set to steal dominance of total app downloads from the iPhone for the first time this year. Android will take a significant lead in 2011, with 8.1 billion downloads compared to Apple’s 6 billion, said Ovum.

This gap is expected to widen over the next five years, with the number of Android apps on the market in 2016 expected to be double that of the iPhone by 2016, with 21.8 billion and 11.6 billion respectively.

“The huge lead in downloads that Android will take on Apple is being driven by the growth of the platform as a result of its increasing popularity and progress into lower price points,” said Ovum devices analyst Nick Dillon. “But although Android phones will lead on total download numbers, iPhone will continue to dominate the market in terms of revenues from paid-for apps, reaching $2.86 billion (£1.79bn) in 2016, compared to $1.5 billion (£941m) for Android.”

Meanwhile, global mobile phone application downloads are expected to top 18 billion by the end of 2011 – an increase of 144 percent from 2010. Strong growth will continue over the next five years, with mobile phone application downloads expected to top 45 billion in 2016, creating revenues of $7.7 billion (up from $3.7 billion in 2011).

According to Dillon, the app store will remain the primary channel for consumers to get applications onto their mobile phones, in spite of the threat that HTML5 poses to the hegemony of native applications.

“App stores offer a familiar environment for consumer to discover, download and purchase apps, and we anticipate that the majority of app stores will list a mix of both HTML5 and native applications in their catalogues in the future,” he said.

App developers in demand

A report released this week by Dice.com, an American career website for technology and engineering professionals, found that mobile application development skills are one of the fastest growing hiring requests on Dice. According to Alice Hill, managing director of Dice, less than one in five  technology professionals have published a mobile app and, of that group, just 27 percent work on mobile initiatives full-time.

In terms of which mobile platform developers prefer to work with, Hill says iPhone wins for full-time developers and Android takes the prize for those who undertake mobile efforts more as an avocation. But employers are clearly increasingly searching  for Android developers, she noted.

In fact, the gap is widening between Android and iPhone job postings on Dice. For every request in search of iPhone experience, users will find 1.4 requests for Android – which was more even in March when Android took a very slight lead.

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