Mobile App Downloads Hit Record As Revenues Rise To £1.4bn

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Apple and Google dominant but there’s a role for BlackBerry and Windows Phone too

Mobile app downloads increased by 11 percent to 13.4 billion during the first quarter  of 2013, while direct revenues from paid-for-apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions grew to $2.2 billion (£1.4bn), according to Canalys.

The research firm monitored downloads across the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store and BlackBerry World across 50 countries and concluded that there was “healthy growth” in what is now a multi-billion pound growth market.

It said that apps were central to how consumers engaged with content and services and that they were more comfortable and confident in finding and paying for applications.

Mobile app downloads

smartphone appsSome of the strongest growth was in emerging markets like South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, chiefly due to the increasing adoption of smartphones, but there were also increases in “mature markets” such as North America and Western Europe.

Unsurprisingly, the App Store and Google Play were revealed to be the two biggest marketplaces, with the former accounting for 74 percent of revenues and the latter for 51 percent of all downloads, confirming the common belief that iOS users are more prepared to pay for content than their Android counterparts.

More than 40 billion mobile apps have been downloaded from the App Store since it was launched in 2007, while Google Play reached the 25 billion milestone last summer. However, unlike iOS, piracy is more of an issue on Android, while there are a number of application stores to choose from.

Canalys says that Microsoft and BlackBerry must ensure that key applications are available on their mobile platforms if they are going to compete in the smartphone arena.

Apple-Google duopoly

“The strength of app ecosystems will increasingly help to determine winners and losers in the smart device industry,” said Tim Shepherd, Canalys Senior Analyst, who praised both companies for their attempts to court developers but said that they must market their offerings efficiently to consumers.

However, Shepherd added that the Apple-Google duopoly created certain challenges for app publishers, operators, investors and vendors that made a third operating system desirable. BlackBerry in particular has been proactive in this regard, offering incentives to developers to port their wares to BlackBerry 10.

“Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world. In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored.

“Each of these four stores represents a different market proposition for developers, and remains the primary outlet to reach users on the platforms they serve. BlackBerry and Microsoft particularly need to continue to proactively work to attract fresh, innovative content and services to their respective catalogues, and fill gaps in their inventories.”

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