GSMA CEO Rob Conway opened the conference programme at Congress this morning proclaiming that 2010 would be the “year of the developer.”
He described mobile applications – as pioneered by Apple’s App Store – as the “new magnet for eyeballs” and cited recent Gartner figures claiming that app downloads will exceed 4.5 billion this year, and surpass 21.6 billion by 2013 (revenue from apps is forecast to grow to US$29.5B by this point).
As an estimated 80 percent of downloads today are delivered for free, Conway said that advertising-funded apps are expected to become a key focus in the sector. “Apple gets this and is creating an ecosystem with advertisers and developers that will seek to optimise advertising revenues, sustain developers and reward advertisers through Apple’s ever deepening user data.”
He added that the move to an ad-funded model is also creating a new environment for brand advertising. “Brands are working hard to make their apps useful and therefore users often see them for their practical value. This is a very potent mix for brands.” Gartner forecasts that advertising-sponsored mobile apps will generate almost 25 percent of mobile app store revenue by 2013.
Mobile advertising was a focus elsewhere in Conway’s address. He admitted that it had been “over-promised” in the past, but pointed to recent acquisitions in this space by the likes of Apple and Google as evidence that the mobile advertising market was heating up. “If we look at media consumption, you can see that ‘eyeballs’ are moving away from traditional media… to mobile.” To that end, he noted that the GSMA has launched its Mobile Media Metrics mobile Internet analysis tool in the UK in collaboration with ComScore and all five of the country’s mobile operators.
Conway also updated delegates on a number of other initiatives, including OneAPI, mobile broadband and the mWomen initiative.